Boca Raton Bowl Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State Predictions, Picks, Odds

  • When Western Kentucky has the ball – high-flying offense enters the bowl season
  • When Appalachian State has the ball — balance has led to success
  • X-factors to watch

Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State Odds

Odds presented by: DraftKings Sportsbook

Team Spread Money Line Total
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers +3 (-110)
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+130
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O 67 (-110)
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Appalachian State Mountaineers -3 (-110)
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-150
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U 67 (-110)
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Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State Prediction and Picks

Western Kentucky lost to UTSA twice this season to miss out on a league title. The same happened to Appalachian State against Louisiana.

So while neither team won their conference, both have plenty of talent and want to end on a high note and notable, healthy players are expected to go. App State is 6-0 in Bowls since 2015 while WKU is still looking for its first bowl win. Because of that desire, we’re going to take Western Kentucky to cover the spread and on the money line.

Western Kentucky to cover the spread +3 (-110)

Western Kentucky to Win (+130)

Garcia’s 2021 record: (25-24)

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Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State Prediction

Betting Trends to Watch

  • Hilltoppers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
  • Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss
  • Hilltoppers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog
  • Hilltoppers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss
  • Hilltoppers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 vs. Sun Belt
  • Over is 5-0 in Hilltoppers last 5 games as an underdog
  • Over is 4-1 in Hilltoppers last 5 games overall
  • Over is 6-2 in Hilltoppers last 8 games in December
  • Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games
  • Mountaineers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in December
  • Under is 4-1 in Mountaineers last 5 games overall
  • Under is 4-1 in Mountaineers last 5 vs. a team with a winning record

Hilltoppers Offense Looks to Fly

Western Kentucky may have lost five games this year, but it’s not due to lack of firepower. On the contrary, the Hilltoppers are loaded with offensive talent, it was the combination of a tough schedule up front that stopped a good season from becoming great.

The team is led by pro-prospect Bailey Zappe who led the nation in passing yards (5, 546) and touchdowns (56) this season, while ranking in the top 20 in QBR.

Western Kentucky’s offense is nearly unstoppable – having been held to fewer than 40 points just one time in the past nine games (they’re 7-2 over that stretch) and have four receivers whose numbers could be good enough to lead their team.

Here’s what those stats look like.

Jerreth Sterns: 137 catches for 1,718 yards and 14 touchdowns

Mitchell Tinsley: 80 catches for 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns

Daewood Davis: 41 catches for 707 yards and eight touchdowns

Malachi Corley: 71 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns

The point is, Western Kentucky’s offense is so dynamic and has such quick-strike ability, Appalachian State’s only chance is to keep it off the field. The good news for Mountaineers fans is their team had probably the best defense in the Sun Belt.

Prior to the team’s 24-16 loss to Louisiana in the conference championship game, App State had given up just 31 total points in the team’s four games in the month of November.

Mountaineers Hang Their Hat on Balance

There’s no one player or one facet of this team that’s going to wow anybody, but this also isn’t the program from 2007 that shocked the world when it beat Michigan. The Mountaineers won 10 or more games for the 12th time since 2000 and second year in a row.

Part of App State’s success is predicated on its offensive balance, and it showed that this season scored 50 offensive touchdowns – 25 through the air and 25 on the ground.

Leading the way passing was senior Chase Brice, throwing for 3,020 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. The two-headed monster in the backfield of Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples help keep defenses honest and with good reason.

Noel got the bulk of the carries, rushing a196 times for 1,078 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns but when App State got around the goal line, it was time for Peoples.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound bruiser had a team-high 14 touchdowns, rushing 153 time for 825 yards (5.4 yards per carry) on the season.

X-factors to Watch

The x-factor for Western Kentucky all season has been finding a way to keep their defense off the field because the problem is the offense scores so fast, the defense then has to run back out and get a stop.

That makes running back Noah Whittington worth watching. It’s not in the Hilltoppers’ DNA to go slowly, but if they do at all and use Whittington – who ran 94 times for a team-high 467 yards and one score this year – to keep the defense honest, it will only help the whole effort.

On the flip side, App State’s has a trio of receivers between 50-61 catches, between 775-905 yards and with either six or seven touchdowns. That balance has helped Shawn Clark’s team and we will call Sutton – who is the senior and the leader – the x-factor.

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How to watch Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs Appalachian State Mountaineers Information
Teams Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs Appalachian State Mountaineers
Location FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.
Time Saturday, Dec. 18, 11:00 a.m. EST
How to watch ESPN

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Tony Garcia

Expert on Baseball

Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.