College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Florida Atlantic vs. Western Kentucky: Bet Against Zappe, ‘Toppers Again?

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Florida Atlantic vs. Western Kentucky: Bet Against Zappe, ‘Toppers Again? article feature image
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  • Bailey Zappe and Western Kentucky host FAU with their five-game winning streak on the line.
  • The Owls are seeking bowl eligibility, but have lost the last two games.
  • Doug Ziefel has a full preview and breaks down why he likes the Owls to cover.

FAU vs. WKU Odds

Saturday, Nov. 20
12 p.m. ET
Stadium
Florida Atlantic Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+10.5
-115
63.5
-115o / -105u
+300
Western Kentucky Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-10.5
-105
63.5
-115o / -105u
-400
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

This game may kick off at Noon ET, but we all know that it’s Zappe Hour when the Florida Atlantic Owls travel to face off against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and star quarterback Bailey Zappe.

These two teams are trending in opposite directions. The Owls have lost two straight to Marshall and lowly Old Dominion. Their offense has been scuffling of late as they have been outscored 58-29 during their two-game losing streak, though a matchup with Hilltoppers could provide a jolt to the offense as the pace will be dialed up.

The Hilltoppers have been rolling with five straight wins, all against conference opponents.

Will the Hilltoppers continue their offensive barrage, or do the Owls have the perfect combination of matchup edges and positive regression to stop them?


Florida Atlantic Owls

Ground Game Will Be Key for the Owls 

The Owls’ offense has been near-dormant as of late but they are poised to break out against the Western Kentucky defense. Sophomore running back Johnny Ford may be small in stature, listed at 5-foot-5 and 175 pounds, but his production has been huge for the Owls.

Ford has rushed for 735 yards at an average of 6.7 yards per clip. Even over the last two games, where FAU’s offense hasn’t done much, Ford has rushed for 239 yards, averaging eight yards per carry.

The USF transfer is a nightmare to deal with as his size allows him to be elusive with a low center of gravity. Add that to his elite speed, which he showed earlier in the season on a screen pass:

The speedy Johnny Ford gets the ball on a screen pass & goes all the way for the FAU TD. The Owls retake the lead on the road.

FAU 14
CHARLOTTE 9

pic.twitter.com/rl59lxHspN

— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) October 22, 2021

Ford has been running wild as of late and the Hilltoppers are another unit that may fail to slow him down. This Western Kentucky defense is 112th in Defensive Line Yards and 114th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed. That ranking stems directly from the Hilltoppers allowing 4.7 yards per rush, which is 101st nationally.

Ford may not be alone in the team’s rushing success in this game. Quarterback N’Kosi Perry has been a threat on the ground and his mobility can present all sorts of problems for the Hilltoppers.

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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Zappe Leading Hilltoppers’ Prolific Air Raid

The Western Kentucky offense only runs the ball around 33% of the time. Why would you when you have Zappe at quarterback? The senior from Victoria, Texas has been otherworldly this season. He leads the nation in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passing yards per game.

Zappe has done all of this, not as a gunslinger, but as high volume surgeon. His 42:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 71% completion percentage are incredibly impressive given his volume of attempts. His ability to take the top off of opposing defenses can come at any time as he showed earlier this season against Army:

Bailey Zappe 👑 of deep bombs #CFB

pic.twitter.com/02m6YDDavl

— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) September 11, 2021

WKU has a star at receiver, too. Jerreth Stearns has a nation-leading 111 receptions for 1,084 yards. The next receiver has 23 fewer receptions than Stearns. The Zappe to Stearns connection may be the scariest in all of Group of 5.

For all of the might that the Hilltoppers’ offense presents, they may struggle in this matchup. The FAU defense has been very stout against the pass this season. They are 20th in Passing Success Allowed, 29th in opponent completion percentage and seventh in coverage rating.

This will be one of the better units Zappe has faced in conference play.


FAU vs. WKU Matchup Analysis

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

Florida Atlantic Offense vs. Western Kentucky Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 38 114
Line Yards 66 112
Pass Success 60 68
Pass Blocking** 99 74
Big Play 49 80
Havoc 92 47
Finishing Drives 67 98
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Western Kentucky Offense vs. Florida Atlantic Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 110 25
Line Yards 42 25
Pass Success 1 20
Pass Blocking** 43 99
Big Play 41 66
Havoc 2 46
Finishing Drives 21 10
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 56 120
Coverage 7 25
Middle 8 37 6
SP+ Special Teams 74 19
Plays per Minute 28 5
Rush Rate 57.4% (50) 33.3% (129)

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


Florida Atlantic vs. Western Kentucky Betting Pick

This spread has plenty of value when considering all the factors that will impact the pace of it. This will not be another Western Kentucky shootout. The Owls can control the clock by running the ball with Ford, which will also keep Zappe on the sidelines.

I expect the FAU defense to get its fair share of stops as it should be ready and able to defend the air raid. This number should be right around a touchdown and getting an extra field goal is too much to pass up.

Take the Owls as they’ll take the air out of the Hilltoppers’ offense.

Pick: FAU +10

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