Anybody following the college football odds would not be surprised if this was the first of two matchups between Louisiana Tech & Western Kentucky, since they the division favorites in Conference USA.
Both have the offensive talent in a league known for offense and football handicappers and those placing college football picks will not have any problem backing these two teams most of the year. The NFL might have all the buzz on Thursday night with their opener, but this figures to be a very entertaining and important C-USA affair on FS1.
When Louisiana Tech Has the Ball
Louisiana Tech was on the receiving end of three Southern University turnovers and cruised to a 52-8 halftime lead on the way to a 62-15 final as 39-point favorites. The Bulldogs are the defending Western Division champions and added Florida transfer Jeff Driskel as their quarterback and he was a smooth 12 for 15 for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Driskel has a lot options on the perimeter, with is top target Trent Taylor and the running game is in very good hands with Kenneth Dixon, off a 106-yard effort on only nine carries. Coach Skip Holtz has a lot of offensive talent and one that will have those making sports picks drooling.
When Western Kentucky has the Ball
It was one thing to see Western Kentucky to be move from +2.5 point underdogs to ultimately 2-point favorites at Vanderbilt by sportsbooks, but it was quite another to see the Hilltoppers with no points at halftime. Quarterback Brandon Doughty and Western Kentucky did enough in the second half to squeak out a 14-12 win. Doughty hopes to find a more consistent rhythm versus a lesser defense compared to Vandy. Wide receivers Tyler Higbee, Antwane Grant and others will look to find more room to roam in this matchup.
What the Bulldogs have to do on Defense
Southern U. was nothing more than a warm-up for the defense and the six returning starters are back from a defense that led all of FBS last year with an alarming 42 takeaways. This is something which will not happen every year, but three ball-hawkers from the secondary return that helped contribute to 26 interceptions. Like Vandy, Louisiana Tech will need to pressure Doughty, but do not have the same kind of players and will have to be more creative to keep him off his balance.
What the Hilltoppers Have to do on Defense
Last year, whatever the offense scored, the Western Kentucky defense nearly gave back in surrendering 39.9 points a game. However, they were the ones who were the difference in defeating Vanderbilt, stopping them on two-point conversion in the final minute and being strong in the red zone. Talent-wise, the Hilltoppers are not going to jump out when watching tape or their games, but seven returning starters learned a great deal from last season and are committed more gang-tackling. Handling the Louisiana Tech offense will be one of their biggest tests all season.
Oddsmakers Numbers and Outcome
Western Kentucky will have payback in mind as Louisiana Tech held the Hilltoppers to 10 points in the 59-10 rout last season. The college football betting odds at Heritagesports.eu have Western Kentucky favored by two points, which suggests linemakers have a lot of respect for Louisiana Tech overall.
This is a matchup of the two best quarterbacks in C-USA and both can be expected to have very good against defenses that will bend, if not always break. While Louisiana Tech is certainly a tempting choice, Western Kentucky will be fired up after last year's debacle and will do enough on offense and defense to win by six points.
College Football Pick: Western Kentucky -2 at Heritage