FanDuel offers The Hilltoppers as a -7.0 favorite (-105), and the oddsmaker suggests Tuesday could see some offensive fireworks with a 60.5-point total.
Who will win this important C-USA matchup? Find out when we offer our best bet for Western Kentucky vs. Jacksonville State on Tuesday, October 17.
Western Kentucky’s Takeaway Tops
Western Kentucky is 4-2 on the season and 2-0 in conference play, and they boast one of the most aggressive defenses in all of college football. The Takeaway Tops had 32 takeaways in 2022, and this season has forced 16 turnovers with a pair of defensive TDs.
Hilltoppers quarterback Austin Reed is one of the best in the country. He threw for 1665 passing yards with 14 TDs and three interceptions and 297 yards with three scoring strikes and an interception at Louisiana Tech on October 5.
Wideout Malachi Corley has 538 receiving yards and leads five other Hilltoppers with 100+ receiving yards for the pass-heavy Western Kentucky offense.
Fewest yards Lost to sacks (among qualified passers)
1. Garrett Greene, WVU: 6
2. Jayden Maiava, UNLV: 8
3. Kurtis Rourke, Ohio: 10
3. Austin Reed, WKU: 10
3. Joey Aguilar, App St: 10
6. Rocco Becht, Iowa St: 13
7. Dillon Gabriel, Okl: 16
7. Michael Penix, Wash: 16
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) October 16, 2023
The Hilltoppers defense allows 29 points per contest but has allowed fewer than 29 points in five of their six matchups, except the 63 points surrendered at No. 3 Ohio State during Week 3 of the season.
Jacksonville State QB Situation
The Jacksonville State QB room has seen some injuries. Starting QB Logan Smothers was injured last week in the Gamecocks home loss to Liberty and is questionable for Tuesday.
Their other starting QB, Zion Webb, was concussed last week against Liberty and also listed as questionable.
That would leave this rush-first offense in the hands of freshman QB Ashton Frye. Frye threw for 54 yards with an additional 23 rushing yards, but if he does start will mostly hand the ball off to RB Malik Sanders.
Sanders has scampered for 578 rushing yards with four TDs and leads a backfield with five rushing for 100+ yards this season.
CONFERENCE USA TOTAL QBR SEASON (OVERALL RANK)
1 Kaidon Salter/Liberty 74.4 (25)
2 Diego Pavia/New Mexico State 67.5 (42)
3 Austin Reed/Western Kentucky 66.5 (47)
4 Nicholas Vattiato/Middle Tennessee 46.6 (98)
5 Logan Smothers/Jacksonville State 38.6 (108)
6 Gavin Hardison/UTEP… pic.twitter.com/crvdm5Q4lc
— CFB Focus 🏈 (@cffmwachsman) October 16, 2023
The J’Ville State defense makes the Gamecocks their money. In 2022, this group recovered 16 fumbles and is tied nationally with the Hilltoppers in takeaways and 10 interceptions this season.
The Gamecocks allow the 29th fewest points per game nationally in three of their last three matchups.
Western Kentucky vs. Jacksonville State Best Bet
Western Kentucky has had nearly two weeks to prepare, and my best bet is Western Kentucky -7.0 (-105) at FanDuel Sportsbook Kentucky.
Reed will face a stiff test Tuesday, but he should pass with flying colors, and the offense will be able to score against a Gamecocks defense that looks better on paper than they actually are.
Reed and the Hilltoppers offense is the real deal, and their rushing defense is good enough to slow down the aggressive and high-powered Gamecocks offense.
Not having Smothers and/or Webb at full strength will make it difficult to defeat a Western Kentucky defense allowing fewer than 28 points over their previous three contests. Take Western Kentucky -7.0 (-105) at FanDuel Sportsbook.
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