On Thursday (10/5/23), Western Kentucky faces Louisiana Tech. In this article, find a full preview of this matchup including the latest betting odds. Also get our Western Kentucky Vs. Louisiana Tech best bet which is Louisiana Tech +5.5.
Western Kentucky Vs. Louisiana Tech Prediction & Best Bet
Midweek C-USA is back in action this week, and we have two teams vying for the top spot in a fascinating conference. Western Kentucky beat Middle Tennessee in their first conference game last week while Louisiana Tech is 2-0 in conference play with wins over FIU and UTEP.
Louisiana Tech is down to backup Jack Turner at quarterback after Hank Bachmeier suffered a shoulder injury. Turner has made two starts, and he only completed 45% of his passes against UTEP last week. However, this Louisiana Tech offense has weapons for him to work with.
Both Smoke Harris and Cyrus Allen have over 300 receiving yards for the Bulldogs while Tyre Shelton and Keith Willis Jr. are both averaging over 7 yards per carry. Western Kentucky ranks just 107th in EPA per play allowed, so this offense should find success.
Meanwhile, Austin Reed isn’t holding up to the normal standards for what we expect from a Western Kentucky passing offense – they’re outside the top 60 in passing EPA and success rate. The volume has been there – they’re third in passing plays per game – but the efficiency hasn’t.
Going on the road, it won’t be much easier for Western Kentucky to boost that passing efficiency against a Louisiana Tech defense that’s top 25 in EPA and success rate allowed through the air.
Western Kentucky opened as a 7.5-point favorite in this game, but that was quickly bet down to the current line of 6.5 points. I believe that move is in the right direction as this line should be much closer to a pick ‘em. Let’s take the points with the undervalued home underdog here.
Western Kentucky Vs. Louisiana Tech Prediction & Best Bet: Louisiana Tech +6.5
Western Kentucky Vs. Louisiana Tech Betting Odds
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers sit as 6 or 6.5 point favorites at the time of writing. This spread opened at 7.5 points and was bet as low as 5.5 before some market resistance on Western Kentucky. The over/under sits at 59 points currently.
Western Kentucky Vs. Louisiana Tech Key Matchups
In this C-USA matchup, there are some big-time players on either side that are worth watching. Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups that will help determine the winner of this game.
Austin Reed Vs. Louisiana Tech’s Pass Defense
Austin Reed threw for over 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns last year, and a number of Power Five teams had interest in the transfer portal. However, Western Kentucky secured an NIL package that allowed them to keep Reed in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
While Reed stayed at WKU, Ben Arbuckle, his offensive coordinator, did not. Arbuckle is currently helped Cameron Ward break out at Washington State. Reed’s efficiency has declined without his offensive coordinator – he’s down from 7.8 yards per attempt to 6.4.
Reed’s efficiency likely won’t improve this week against a Louisiana Tech pass defense that ranks 12th in PFF coverage grades and 9th in passing success rate allowed. Stephen F. Austin transfer cornerback Willie Roberts has generated draft buzz with his impressive start to the season.
— Your News About National Football. (@TheNFLNewspaper) September 29, 2023
Tyre Shelton and Keith Willis Jr. Vs. Western Kentucky’s Run Defense
With the inexperienced Jack Turner starting at quarterback, Louisiana Tech will rely on its run game. Tyre Shelton and Keith Willis Jr. both average over 7 yards per carry this season. Last week, Shelton led the way with 16 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Western Kentucky has struggled to defend the run as they rank 118th in rushing EPA allowed. That plays right into Louisiana Tech’s benefit, as they can have success with the run on early downs and avoid long passing downs for Turner.
A wild comeback from @LATechFB fell just short against North Texas yesterday. But RB Tyre Shelton had an absolute DAY, rushing for 152 yards and a TD on just 16 carries – including this 56 yard rumble:@ConferenceUSA @tyreshelton pic.twitter.com/j0OV6wKHXX
— Simon Carroll (@NFLDraftSi) September 17, 2023