College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Charlotte vs. Western Kentucky: Why You Shouldn’t Back Zappe in Week 9

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Charlotte vs. Western Kentucky: Why You Shouldn’t Back Zappe in Week 9 article feature image

Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bailey Zappe.

  • Bailey Zappe and Western Kentucky look to extend their winning streak beyond two as they face Charlotte.
  • The 49ers are coming off of a loss to Florida Atlantic at home.
  • Keg breaks down the game and offers up his pick for the Conference USA duel.

Charlotte vs. Western Kentucky Odds

Saturday, Oct. 30
4 p.m. ET
Charlotte Odds
-110o / -110u
Western Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

A homecoming Halloweekend Zappe Hour, does it get much better than that?

Saturday afternoon, the Charlotte 49ers head to Bowling Green to take on one of the most efficient offenses in the county in Western Kentucky. Coming off of a blowout loss to FAU last week, does Charlotte have a bounce-back game in them this week?

Against this Hilltoppers defense that has been at the opposite end of national rankings as their offense, the 49ers should have at least the opportunity to pick up their third conference win of the season.

It's hard to believe this Western Kentucky team is 3-4 on the year, as it has been close and had an opportunity to win late in nearly every game other than Michigan State. Outside of that game, its three losses have come by a combined 11 points.

Can Western stay on track to meet UTSA again in the conference championship? The Hilltoppers' fate is in their own hands, as they're in a four-way tie atop the C-USA East at 2-1 and still get to play the three teams they're tied with.

Charlotte 49ers

Charlotte Offense

The Charlotte offense averages 386 yards while putting up 25 points per game; both rank inside the top 100 but not by much. Last time out, the 49ers were embarrassed at home by FAU in a game where they couldn't stop making mistakes.

Last week, the offense did decent in the first half but got in their own way with turnovers and not scoring in the red zone. They then posted just 98 yards and no points in the second half.

Charlotte had more five-wide sets in last week's game than its had all season, and it showed as it recorded just 77 rush yards.

Western has one of the best quarterbacks in the Conference USA and maybe a top-25 QB in the nation, but Chris Reynolds hasn't been terrible for Charlotte.

So far this season, he's averaging 219 passing yards per game while completing 66.3% of passes. Reynolds has recorded 16 touchdown passes and five interceptions through seven games while tacking on 198 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Charlotte Defense

Against FAU, the 49ers struggled on defense, specifically once the Owls went to an up-tempo offense — something Charlotte will see this week against Western Kentucky, which averages more than 450 yards per game.

The 49ers have allowed 200-plus yards on the ground in four games this season, three of which were 280 yards or more.

Last week, Charlotte allowed five plays of 30 yards or more, two of which went for touchdowns — bringing Charlotte's total touchdowns of 30-plus yards allowed this year to 12 (and seven were more than 50 yards).

The 49ers entered last week allowing 15 yards per completion and just over eight yards per attempt, both ranking bottom 10 in the nation. They then proceeded to allow 25 yards per completion to the Owls.

If the defense cannot improve those numbers this week against Bailey Zappe and the Hilltoppers, they could very well, and I'm not exaggerating here, lose by 60.

How the team responds after last week will tell us a lot about this Charlotte team going forward. With essentially nowhere to go but up and two extra days to recover and prepare for the Hilltoppers, I expect them to improve in at least some capacity on defense.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Western Kentucky Offense

If you aren't aware of what's been going on at Houchens Industries L. T. Smith Stadium this year, time to familiarize yourself. I'm so glad you've finally made it to the Zappe Hour.

For those of you who are arriving late to the party, Western averages 542.9 yards per outing, ranking second in the country. And 436.3 of those yards on average per game have come via the pass, which ranks first nationally; Western also ranks 11th in scoring with 33 points per game.

The offense is led by Zappe, who leads the nation in touchdowns, ranks second in yards and has only thrown four interceptions. Those stats come all while completing 71.1% of his passes and posting a QB rating of 169.3.

WKU added Zappe from Houston Baptist this offseason, along with his offensive coordinator and a host of offensive linemen and receivers.

Western Kentucky Defense

While the offense may be among the best, the defense ranks 116th out of 130 teams.

The Hilltoppers allow 33.0 points per game, ranking 124th while giving up 172.1 yards per game and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

Through the air, opponents have scored 11 touchdowns while posting 276.1 yards per game, putting them at 127th.

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Charlotte vs. Western Kentucky Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Charlotte and Western Kentucky match up statistically:

Charlotte Offense vs. Western Kentucky Defense
Rush Success75125
Line Yards86116
Pass Success4597
Pass Blocking**10491
Big Play8492
Finishing Drives51120
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Western Kentucky Offense vs. Charlotte Defense
Rush Success9695
Line Yards18105
Pass Success379
Pass Blocking**1112
Big Play4119
Finishing Drives3870
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling11264
Middle 87715
SP+ Special Teams9221
Plays per Minute1217
Rush Rate55.2% (65)33.6% (129)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Charlotte vs. Western Kentucky Betting Pick

I don't know many people who have backed the Hilltoppers more this year than me. I love this team.

But the WKU defense cannot be ignored. It's one of the worst in the nation, and it doesn't matter how many yards and touchdowns Zappe can put on the board if the defense is letting teams significantly worse on offense do the same thing.

The 49ers held possession for 34 minutes last week against a team whose defense ranks light years ahead of WKU. Charlotte couldn't score in the second half, and it slowed the game down that much.

Ranking 78th in the nation in plays per game at 68, a number that's even lower on the road, where they average 63.7.

I have no doubt Western will win its homecoming game, but 17.5 points is too many with this Western defense and Charlotte's ability to slow this game down.

Our Action projections make this game WKU -14, a number I agree with. I got Charlotte at +19.5 early in the week and I would bet it down to +17.5 but no lower.

Should it dip below that number, look to take Western live at -13.5 or better.

Pick: Charlotte +17.5 (-110), wouldn't play lower than 17.5

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