Western Kentucky vs. Indiana Odds, Picks, Predictions for College Football: Can Hilltoppers Stun Hoosiers?
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
- Indiana travels to Western Kentucky following its loss to Cincinnati
- Michael Penix Jr. looks to improve following shaky performance vs. Bearcats.
- Alex Kolodziej breaks down this matchup and provides his best bet.
Western Kentucky vs. Western Indiana Odds
|Western Kentucky Odds
|+280 / -350
|62.5 (-105 / -115)
|8:00 p.m. ET
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.
The Indiana Hoosiers fell to a mid-major last weekend. If they aren't ready to go Saturday for Week 4, they'll take another one on the chin against a scrappy Western Kentucky club.
The Hoosiers took an early 14-0 lead over ranked Cincinnati last Saturday at home. But four turnovers and a second-half defense lapse later, Indiana let the Bearcats walk out with a 14-point win and easy cover.
The next loss for Indiana head coach Tom Allen will already be more than last year's record, and we're not even through September.
Let's dive into all the betting angles as the Hoosiers look to escape the dreaded hangover spot.
Indiana vs. Western Kentucky Betting Preview
Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been plagued by injuries throughout his career in Bloomington. He suffered another last weekend but has been given the green light to start on Saturday.
A competent stat line would go a long way for a quarterback in need of a confidence boost in a big way.
Penix posted the fourth-worst EPA among Week 1 quarterbacks against Iowa. Two of his three interceptions were returned for scores in a game in which Indiana didn't find the end zone.
He rebounded against Idaho the following week, only to completely unravel against Cincinnati. Penix threw three more picks and completed worse than 50 percent of his attempts.
Last year's defensive unit was stout under current South Alabama head coach and former IU defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, finishing 14th nationally in DF+ and holding six of eight opponents under the team total. A step back was imminent.
Naturally, the Hoosiers have been so-so across the board, notably struggling against the rush (85th in Success Rate) through three games.
They've surrendered only 315.5 yards per game, a year after allowing 378.1.
A key factor in the success of Indiana's defense been shutting down the big play, in which the Hoosiers rank 33rd nationally.
The secondary has to be on its toes in Week 4 against one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the Group of 5 ranks.
Western Kentucky Offense
The Hilltoppers' offense set the college football world ablaze years ago under quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton.
Following a short stint at Tennessee, Helton returned as the head man for the Hilltoppers. He finally has the weapons to make life miserable for any pass defense they draw.
Quarterback and transfer Bailey Zappe's already logged 10 touchdown passes, which ties him for fourth nationally. He's also put up a 0.20 Explosiveness Over Expectation, good for ninth in the country.
Only Mississippi State (77.1%) is throwing the ball more frequently than Western Kentucky (69.4%) this season.
When you're top 10 in Pass Success, Blocking and Big Play rate, there's no sense in trying to fix what isn't broken.
Western Kentucky Defense
Western Kentucky's numbers are naturally skewed after playing run-first Army, which took 67 carries for a whopping 339 yards last week.
However, the Black Knights were the second straight opponent to have a field day on the ground after Tennessee-Martin registered close to six yards a pop in the opener.
Western Kentucky enters Week 4 in the bottom five in Rush Success, owning the third-worst Explosive Run Rate in the country.
The unit's been dismal at creating Havoc and Finishing Drives, ranking bottom-25 in both departments.
Indiana vs. Western Kentucky Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Indiana and Western Kentucky match up statistically:
Indiana Offense vs. Western Kentucky Defense
Western Kentucky Offense vs. Indiana Defense
Pace of Play / Other
There's certainly a contrast in styles, which makes for an intriguing handicap.
Indiana normally wouldn't mind getting in a shootout, but Penix's play of late doesn't instill much confidence, especially in a late-night road game after a home loss to a ranked opponent.
Indiana vs. Western Kentucky Betting Pick
The market was dead wrong on the Army-Western Kentucky total, driving it down all week only for the two to shatter it in the Black Knights' 38-35 win.
I disagree with this move up from 62.
Indiana and Cincinnati cruised past last week's total despite both quarterbacks averaging fewer than six yards per pass.
Penix would normally be a great bet against a soft defense, but he has the yips. The fact that I can't fade a Conference USA defense against a Big Ten offense is alarming.
The Hoosiers can't hit the big play, let alone complete a pass for a first down.
On paper, it looks like a wide-open game script with plenty of chucking.
Then again, Indiana is facing one of the worst rush defenses in the country, while also serving as the toughest test for Western Kentucky's offense.
The Hoosiers have cashed the under in seven of the last nine non-conference games. Western Kentucky, meanwhile, is 4-1 to the under in the last five games coming off of a loss.