Western Kentucky is operating in high gear and the sports-betting public has noticed, wagering on the Hilltoppers out of the gate to move this spread a full point from a 7.5 opener at several shops. Indiana is a consensus -6.5, per odds early in the week.
WKU gets the benefit of being idle last week. It will have had two weeks to prep for Indiana, whose campus is a mere two-hour drive north from Bowling Green, Kentucky and the WKU campus.
In 2015, the last time the Hilltoppers visited Indiana, they lost, 38-35. This one will be telecast on the Big Ten Network, and here is a look at Western Kentucky vs. Indiana odds and a pick.
WKU vs. Indiana Betting Lines: Point Spread, Total, Moneyline
Here are live odds from around the betting market as the Hilltoppers visit the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Indiana.
NCAAF · Sat (9/17) @ 12:00pm ET
|Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana|
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-0, 1-1 against the spread)
Tyson Helton’s third season coaching WKU went splendidly, as it capped a 9-5 campaign with a rousing 59-38 triumph over Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl.
That was largely due to the handiwork of quarterback Bailey Zappe. Now, 6-foot-2 junior Austin Reed is in from a Division-II program, and it’s as if the transition has been seamless.
Well, let’s not get too carried away. Zappe’s offense averaged 430 passing yards a game, the third program to average more than 400 aerial yards (’16 Texas Tech, 448; ’19 Washington State, 434) in the past six seasons.
Reed has averaged 275 through the air, having thrown for seven touchdowns while two passes have been picked off. If Zappe operated in fifth gear, maybe Reed is in third, which is just fine. He’s about to slip into fourth.
WKU is the fifth-most efficient offense in the nation, with an average of 0.817 points per play. It has tallied 87 total points against Austin Peay and Hawaii.
After a 49-17 triumph on Oahu, the devout Reed wrote on his Twitter page, “Thank you God! What an overall team win. How bout them Tops!!”
“Them Tops” are rested and polished. Their defense is a menace, as they’re tied with USC for third in the country with a +4 turnover margin; Louisiana (+5) is first, and Nevada (+4.5) is second.
Reed’s high-value target is 6-2 receiver Daewood Davis, who began his career at Oregon way back in 2017. He got some traction last season with Zappe (43 receptions, 17.7-yard average, eight TDs) and has continued with Reed.
As a Super Senior, Davis has 11 catches, an 18.4-yard average, and a score. Look for him to bust out soon with a multiple-TD game.
Three of receiver Malachi Corley’s nine receptions have ended in the end zone. Six-foot, 215-pound tailback Kye Robichaux averages nearly six yards per run.
Mostly, we like Reed, who won a D-II national title at West Florida.
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Indiana Hoosiers (2-0, 1-1 ATS)
There’s been a lot of losing in Hoosierville.
The program has had no double-digit-victory seasons, but five with at least 10 defeats. It has dropped its past six bowl games, last winning one in 1991. It’s had two winning campaigns since ’07.
Somehow, IU garnered a No. 17 national ranking to open last season. However, a 34-6 loss at Iowa triggered a tailspin in which the Hoosiers finished 2-10.
So beginning a campaign 2-0 is heady stuff, but locals might be wise not to get ahead of themselves.
After the Toppers, IU travels to always-tough Cincinnati, which qualifies as look-ahead potential.
Then it goes to Nebraska, whose shakeup after this past weekend’s debacle (coach Scott Frost got sacked after a humiliating home defeat to Georgia Southern) might boost the Huskers, who get a bye before playing the Hoosiers.
Michigan visits, then there’s a Murderers’ Row stretch with Penn State at home, at Ohio State, and at Michigan State.
IU’s projected victory total around Vegas is about 4.5, and WKU is 8.5.
The difference will be the Toppers’ ball-hawking defenders against IU’s inefficient 0.291 point-per-play offensive rate, in the bottom quarter of the country. And the WKU defense is especially stingy on third down.
Hoosiers quarterback Connor Bazelak, a 6-3 sophomore transfer from Mizzou, hits less than 55 percent of his attempts, and he has three TD passes with two picks.
Phil Steele, in his college football annual, gives a nod to WKU’s linebackers and defensive backs. Left corner Upton Stout and free safety Kaleb Oliver both have two interceptions this season.
The main disruptor, though, is 6-2, 245-pound sophomore end JaQues Evans, who wears No. 3, is among the nation’s top five in sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (5), and top 20 in solo tackles (14). This hound-dog defense hasn’t missed a step with the departure of superstar Deangelo Malone.
Western vs. Indiana Sports Betting Recommendation & Pick
One of our models shows the Hoosiers should be favored by a mere point, while another has the Hilltoppers winning by 27. We’ll take a finish somewhere in the middle, so a half-unit play on the WKU moneyline would also make sense.
Our Pick: Hilltoppers +6.5 (-110)