The Boca Raton Bowl will feature everyone’s favorite quarterback in Bailey Zappe, who could break Joe Burrow’s FBS single-season passing touchdowns record in this game (Burrow’s record is 60, Zappe is at 56).
Zappe and the Hilltoppers will take on the App State Mountaineers, who boast a defense that has the tools to contain any all-star quarterback.
Behind a 10-3 record, App State is laying a field goal. But thanks to the Hilltoppers’ non-stop offensive attack, the total is approaching 70.
This is shaping up to be a top-five bowl game. But which team has the edge?
Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State Betting Odds
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Odds
Although WKU lost twice to UTSA, including in the C-USA championship game, it was a historic season for the ‘Toppers.
Zappe transferred from FCS Houston Baptist in the last offseason, alongside his offensive coordinator Zach Kittley and wide receiver Jerreth Sterns. At the FBS level, those three created one of the most electric and entertaining offenses in recent history.
Zappe led all college quarterbacks in passing yards and touchdowns, while Sterns nabbed 137 catches and posted over 1700 yards (12.7 yards per reception) in his campaign. As a result, the Hilltoppers finished the season first in Pass Success Rate and third in overall Success Rate.
The offensive line also made Zappe’s job relatively easy. That unit finished first in Pass Blocking and fourth in Preventing Havoc.
And while the Hilltoppers racked up the counting stats, they also cashed in after moving the ball. Western Kentucky finished 11th in Finishing Drives and finished second in points per game (42.1), the latter trailed only Ohio State.
If you’re going to beat Zappe and Co., you must score. Luckily, Western Kentucky makes it relatively easy. The ‘Toppers finished 90th in scoring defense (28.7 points per game allowed) and outside the top-100 in both defensive Rush Success Rate and defensive Finishing Drives.
Western Kentucky Vs. Appalachian State Betting Picks Video
Appalachian State Mountaineers Odds
App State had a great season. A 10-3 overall record was paired with a 9-4 against the spread record, and it even recorded a marquee victory over Coastal Carolina.
Unfortunately, App State’s season is marred by two key losses, both coming to the same team. Louisiana took down App State in Week 6 and in the Sun Belt championship game, as the Rajun Cajuns got their revenge after losing seven of the previous eight matchups.
The Mountaineers were often lackadaisical on offense, and it couldn’t create explosive plays. But nobody was better in the front seven, as App State paced the nation in Havoc while posting top 10 marks in defensive Line Yards and Rush Success Rate.
But all-in-all, App State finished top 25 in both scoring offense (34.2 points per game) and scoring defense (19.3 points per game allowed). That’s a pretty good season.
Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State Prediction and Pick
My pick: Western Kentucky +3 (-110 at BetMGM)
Western Kentucky was the third-most profitable team in college football this season, posting a 9-3 against the spread record. I’ll happily grab the points with this offense.
The sharps agree. While just 37% of the tickets are on the ‘Toppers, over 90% of the handle is. And I’ve seen projections that make this spread closer to +1.5 than +3.
App State is a threat up front, and it can dominate in the run game. But the Hilltoppers call pass at the second-highest rate in the nation (66.9%), and Zappe has the offensive line to protect him.
With the Mountaineers ranking 58th in Pass Rush and 29th in defensive Pass Success Rate, look for Western Kentucky to light it up through the air. WKU should win this game outright.
So bet the Hilltoppers, grab a drink, and mentally prepare yourself for Zappe Hour.
⚡️ ZAPPE HOUR INTENSIFIES ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/FG8m1zbJAn
— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) December 4, 2021