Western Kentucky vs. Hawaii College Football Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Road Favorite

Western Kentucky vs. Hawaii College Football Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Road Favorite article feature image

Via Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Malachi Corley #11 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers catches a pass against the Indiana Hoosiers at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

  • Western Kentucky struggled last week, but came away with a win. The Hilltoppers are looking for a better performance this week.
  • Hawaii also struggled a week ago and is looking to get back on track on front of the home fans.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup and provides his best bet below.

Western Kentucky vs. Hawaii Odds

Saturday, Sept. 3
11:59 p.m. ET
Spectrum PPV
Western Kentucky Odds
-115o / -105u
Hawaii Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

It's interesting to see a Week 1 matchup between two teams that played in Week 0. Moreover, neither team managed to cover last week.

However, Western Kentucky did manage a disappointing win over Austin Peay, while Hawaii was absolutely decimated by Vanderbilt.

So, the bounce-back angle is with Hawaii, but it's going to be hard to trust the Rainbow Warriors with the current level of disarray going on inside the program.

At 1:30 a.m. EST on Aug. 28 — early in the morning after both teams played their respective games on Aug. 27 — this line sat at Western Kentucky -13. The Hilltoppers have taken all the money since, pushing the line up to -16 as the shops try to balance their books.

The money has come in on the over, as well, although I'm skeptical to hit that line considering the wind is projected to be blowing cross-field at almost 15 miles per hour.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

I'm low on the Tops.

I already took their win total under 8.5, and I feel pretty confident about that after the game last week against FCS opponent Austin Peay.

We knew Western Kentucky was going to take a step back on offense with the departure of Bailey Zappe, Zach Kittley and Jerreth Sterns, but Tyson Helton returned as head coach with Daewood Davis and Malachi Corley on the outside.

But this looked worse than expected. Sure, WKU put up 38 points, but its 41% Success Rate for the game was 6% below the national FBS average and fell short of Austin Peay's 42% mark.

The Toppers finished with just a 40% Success Rate on standard downs against an Austin Peay that couldn't break the top 45 in FCS total defense last season.

The defense was horrific last season and isn't looking any stronger. First, it allowed 27 points as 32-point favorites. Second, Austin Peay finished with a 50% Success Rate on standard downs and won the Finishing Drives battle.

Austin Peay couldn't throw the ball, but the Western Kentucky front seven once again will not be able to stop the run. That unit produced a 0.098 Stuff Rate against, again, Austin Peay.

If the Governors didn't fumble the ball four times — losing two — while throwing two interceptions on top, there's a legit chance Western Kentucky would have lost that game.


Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

If Western Kentucky looked bad, wait until we dig into the Hawaii numbers.

Vanderbilt Success RatesHawaii Success Rates
61% Overall40% Overall
63% on Standard Downs50% on Standard Downs
55% on Passing Downs15% on Passing Downs

It's clear that the drop-off from Chevan Cordeiro to Brayden Schager/Joey Yellen is going to be a big one. The two quarterbacks combined for 55 attempts and completed just half of them, finishing with a whopping 4.5 yards per attempt.

Hawaii was half-decent in early run plays, and 4.5 yards per carry isn't horrific (106 rush yards on 26 attempts). But once Vandy stuffed it, the game was game over.

Because of that, Hawaii moved the ball a bit. The Rainbow Warriors produced seven drives that ended past the Vanderbilt 40. They then produced a whopping 10 points for an absurd 1.43 Points Per Opportunity score. New Mexico scored the fewest Points Per Opportunity last season with 2.15.

Against a Western Kentucky rush defense that looks horrendous, there's a chance Hawaii moves the ball. But the Rainbow Warriors won't have much success through the air and won't be explosive. Everything will come down to getting points on the board in the red zone.

Although Western Kentucky sat around 95th in Defensive Finishing Drives last season, I'm still skeptical the Rainbow Warriors get that done.

Western Kentucky vs. Hawaii Betting Pick

SP+ makes this spread WKU -17.5, and our projections make this spread WKU -18. Both include the home-field advantage the Rainbow Warriors get from an island game.

Western Kentucky looked horrendous against Austin Peay, but I think this could be a solid bounce-back for the Tops.

WKU finished above average in Finishing Drives in Week 0 (4.00 Points Per Opportunity), while Hawaii finished below average in Finishing Drives in Week 0 (4.67 Points Per Opportunity allowed).

Finishing Drives is the stat that has the highest correlation with covering the spread. I'd like to think that Hawaii can move the ball against the Western Kentucky defense — and it's why I lean toward the over even at such a high number — but one team is going to score touchdowns, and the other won't. That's the difference.

Quarterback Austin Reed wasn't spectacular in Week 0, but he still threw four touchdowns and 9.4 adjusted yards per attempt. Expect more of the same as the Tops cover in Honolulu.

Pick: Western Kentucky -16 · Lean Over

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