Liberty vs. Western Kentucky kicks off this Tuesday at 7:30pm EST in Bowling Green Kentucky as a home game for the Hilltoppers. Liberty is currently a -4 favorite and -180 on the moneyline while the total is set at 60.5. Read on for more Liberty vs. Western Kentucky predictions as Liberty is in a position to win outright while covering the spread.
Liberty Vs. Western Kentucky Prediction
Western Kentucky has been skating by in fraud territory, playing well above preseason expectations backed behind a one-dimensional offense and a horrific defense. The fraud sentiment finally came to fruition as they lost to Jacksonville State last week, struggling to move the ball against the Gamecocks stout defense and conceding chunks at a time as a lackluster defense.
As for Liberty, it’s more of the same as they continue to rack up wins. While they have looked sloppy as of late in sleepy schedule spots, they are still the comfortable favorite in the conference and are now in a position to create separation against Western Kentucky who is the odds on second favorite per listed odds. While it’s hard to imagine them getting knocked out of the top two, a tiebreaker over WKU would give them added security in case the worst-case scenario happens.
As for how Liberty will pull out the win, that will come from a respectable pass defense and an offense who is capable of setting a scoring pace too fast for the Hilltoppers to keep up with. This is a stylistic nightmare matchup for Western Kentucky as their offense lives and dies with the arm of quarterback Austin Reed, calling the third heaviest Pass Play Rate to the result of below average marks in Pass Success Rate, Pass PPA, and Pass Explosiveness.
That plays right into Liberty’s hands as they currently rank 34th in Def Pass PPA and 22nd in Def Pass Success Rate. Defending Pass Explosiveness is an issue for the Flames, yet the Hilltoppers have given no conviction to being able to exploit it. Lucky for the Flames, Western Kentucky is also unable to take advantage of their poor rush defense metrics as the Hilltoppers grade out near dead last in Rush Success Rate and 95th in Rush PPA.
As for when Liberty has the ball, points should be scored in bunches as they are one of the better well-rounded units and take on a Western Kentucky unit who ranks 109th in Def Success Rate, 79th in Points per Opportunity, and 82nd in Havoc. An advantage in the Havoc department is especially vital for the Flames success as they rank second in the nation in Havoc Allowed, taking care of the ball at an elite rate and sustaining drives down the field.
Liberty Vs. Western Kentucky Prediction: Liberty -4
Liberty Vs. Western Kentucky Betting Odds
In a battle between the two Conference USA heavyweights, oddsmakers lean towards Liberty by opening them as a -3.5 favorite. Bettors are in the same belief, backing the Flames up to as high as -5 in some shops as of writing. Some secondary key numbers of -4 are still available, making it vital to have multiple books in an effort to get the best number available.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a lightning quick pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 61.5. Bettors believe that number opened a tad too high, backing the under down to as low as 60.5. This is correlated to the Hilltoppers potential offensive struggles, having to figure out how to move the ball through the air against an elite Flames secondary.
Liberty Vs. Western Kentucky Key Matchups
Can Liberty continue to find rush success against the Hilltopper defense?
Kaidon Slater and Quinton Cooley Vs. Western Kentucky Front Seven
It was previously mentioned that the Liberty offense should have no issue with moving the ball against the Hilltopper defense and that will be in large part to their ground attack. They have a two headed monster in Kaidon Slater and Quinton Cooley, being able to break out the run from both the quarterback position and in the backfield.
QUINTON COOLEY RUSHED FOR 134 YARDS & 3 TDS pic.twitter.com/XJMzHt7hKG
— ShowMeNumbas (@showmenumbas) October 18, 2023
Their combined rush production has equated to metrics of 22nd in Rush PPA, 20th in Rush Success Rate, and at the fourth heaviest Rush Rate in the nation. These are massive advantages against a WKU front seven who ranks 120th in Def Rush Success Rate and 127th in Def Rush Success Rate. Cooley is fresh off a three-touchdown performance, now in a position to run wild once again.