Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky prediction and pick for this week's Boca Raton Bowl. Make sure you see how handicapper Mike Spector is betting this
Mike Spector |
Mon, December 13, 11:12 AM EST | 4 min read
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Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers - Boca Raton Bowl

Spread: Appalachian State -3

Total: 67.5

Game time: Saturday, 11:00 a.m. ET, Boca Raton, FL

Where to watch: ESPN

Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky odds

Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky Prediction

College football fans will be treated to a fun matchup between the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Appalachian State Mountaineers in the Boca Raton Bowl. This game features the nation’s leading passer, Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe, going against an Appalachian State team that won ten games and is making their sixth consecutive bowl appearance since becoming FBS-eligible. Both teams are looking to get the bad taste out of their mouths after losses in their conference championship games. So which team will emerge victoriously?

Western Kentucky is making its ninth bowl appearance in school history and is playing in its seventh bowl game in the last eight seasons. The Hilltoppers are 5-3 all-time in bowl games and have won four of their previous six. The narrative and buzz surrounding Western Kentucky is Bailey Zappe’s pursuit of the NCAA single-season touchdown record. Zappe enters this game with 56 touchdown passes on the season, four behind Joe Burrow’s record of 60 in 2019. Behind their air-raid offense, Western Kentucky ranks second in the country in points per game (43.1) and total offense (528.4 YPG).

Appalachian State is no slouch offensively either, as their 34.2 PPG ranks 24th in the country. However, the Mountaineers use a much more balanced approach, as former Clemson and Duke quarterback Chase Brice threw for more than 3,000 yards, while they also had two running backs (Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples) that ran for at least 825 yards and 5.4 yards per carry. While Brice was the Sun Belt’s leading passer (3,020 yards) and Noel was the conference’s leading rusher (1,078 yards), Corey Xavier Sutton was Brice’s favorite target in the passing game. Sutton’s 904 receiving yards were third-best in the Sun Belt.

In a game that features two explosive offenses that will seemingly light up the scoreboard, analyzing this game comes down to who you believe will get more stops. That answer is Appalachian State, which ranked second in the Sun Belt, allowing 19.3 PPG. And before their 24-16 loss to Louisiana in the conference championship game, Appalachian State allowed their previous three opponents to score a combined 17 points. Two of the Mountaineers’ three losses were to ranked Louisiana, with their lone other loss coming to Miami on the road, who was the 22nd-ranked team in the country at the time.

Western Kentucky will present a unique challenge for Appalachian State, as the Sun Belt conference is not known to be full of teams with dynamic passing games. Just one team in the conference (Arkansas State) averaged more than 262 passing yards per game, which is a big reason why the Mountaineers pass defense allows just 206.6 yards per game through the air. However, Appalachian State held Arkansas State to 137 passing yards and a 56.7% completion percentage. That 56.7% completion percentage is the highest they have allowed in their last six games, and they have limited three of their opponents to 50% or worse.

Appalachian State has the formula to frustrate a team like Western Kentucky. The Mountaineers are stingy on defense, they pressure the quarterback and can control the time of possession with a balanced offensive attack.

Appalachian State has covered the spread in four of their last five bowl games, while Western Kentucky is 1-6 ATS in their previous seven games against teams from the Sun Belt. With several weeks to prepare for Zappe’s unique skill set, that will pay huge dividends in a Mountaineers win.

Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky Pick

Mike Spector
@MikeSpector01

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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