College Football Bowl Betting Guide: New Orleans Bowl (Western Kentucky at South Alabama)
Just 10 years into their FBS tenure, the South Alabama Jaguars are already making strides in the Sun Belt, eclipsing the 10-win mark for the first time in school history. They'll have a tough task in this one against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, who have become a regular bowl participant from Conference USA.
How should you bet the New Orleans Bowl on Wednesday?
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Western Kentucky +4.5 (-115) - 0.5 Units
Under 55.5 (-108) - 0.5 Units
The Hilltoppers' air-raid offense is well-known at this point after Bailey Zappe set NCAA records last year. However, their defense -- to me -- is the story of this handicap.
Western Kentucky, in what's considered a tougher conference, was 44th in passing yards per attempt (YPA) allowed, and they were 59th in rushing YPA allowed. That's a solid defensive unit considering it's the co-headliner.
Of course, the main show is Austin Reed and the Western Kentucky passing attack. Reed threw for 4,247 yards, and Malachi Corley posted 1,179 yards as his top target. This matchup is sneaky good considering the Jags were 42nd in FBS in passing YPA allowed, too.
South Alabama's offense, to me, is not the juggernaut needed for this lofty total. With a 53.9% rush rate, the Jaguars were just 71st in rushing YPA (4.1) allowed. That was enough with their tremendous defense in the Sun Belt, but I think they'll have difficulty moving the ball on WKU's underrated D.
This line opened with South Alabama as a 7.5-point favorite, but sharp money has dropped the line three full points. I'm leaning toward the sharp side and the more accomplished program -- from the better conference -- which has proven to have a more clear identity.