Western Kentucky vs. UTSA Picks and Predictions: How We’re Betting the Spread & Total for Friday’s C-USA Championship Game (Dec. 3)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images and Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Adam Cofield (7) of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Zakhari Franklin of the UTSA Roadrunners.
- College football's Conference Championship Week kicks off on Friday night as Western Kentucky and UTSA meet in the Conference USA title game.
- Our college football betting staff weighs in on the spread, over/under and available player props to deliver their consensus betting predictions for Western Kentucky vs. UTSA.
- Below, find updated odds for tonight's C-USA Championship, plus our staff's consensus best bets for Friday's game.
Western Kentucky vs. UTSA Odds
|Western Kentucky Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Conference USA Championship
Western Kentucky vs. UTSA
It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere at the Alamodome when Western Kentucky matches up with the UTSA for the Conference USA Championship.
The dome should be packed as UTSA reported that more than 27,000 tickets have been sold for the game without including student, team, and C-USA tickets.
These two teams met in Week 5 in a back-and-forth shootout in which UTSA prevailed, 52-46. The loss was demoralizing for Western Kentucky, which put it at 1-4 on the season. But the Hilltoppers have dominated since then, winning their final seven games by an average margin of 26 points per game.
|Weeks 1-5||Weeks 6-12|
|Avg. Margin of Victory||+2.0||+26.4|
The one constant throughout the season is the electric passing attack through the arm of Bailey Zappe. Zappe tossed 52 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 passing yards, leading the Hilltoppers to the second-scoring offense in the nation.
UTSA rolled through its first 11 games of the season but couldn’t avoid the letdown against North Texas in the final week of the season. The Roadrunners offense thrived, averaging 37 points per game through a more balanced attack that found success both through the air and on the ground.
You can’t ask for a better matchup to kick off championship week in what is expected to be a close game between two explosive offenses.
Western Kentucky vs. UTSA Spread
Western Kentucky -3.5
The Action Network’s college football staff is rolling with Zappe and the boys yet again, with 10 of our 12 against-the-spread picks going with the Hilltoppers.
It’s not hard to make a case for this Western Kentucky offense, which ranks first in Offensive Success Rate behind an incredible passing game.
All of the components in this aerial attack are humming, as Zappe and wide receiver Jerreth Sterns are leading the nation in passing yards and receptions, respectively, while the offensive line leads the country in pressure rate allowed.
From a per-play standpoint, Zappe ranks in the top 15 nationally in Pro Football Focus passing grade and adjusted completion percentage, while Sterns leads the conference in receiving grade.
UTSA’s secondary has struggled this season, ranking 109th in yards allowed per pass attempt. That was definitely put on display in the first matchup between these two squads, as Zappe totaled 523 passing yards and five touchdowns in what ended up being a 52-46 loss for Western Kentucky.
The Roadrunners have been productive in the pass-rushing department but will have an uphill battle to get home against an elite pass-blocking unit.
Don’t overlook this UTSA offense, though, which ranks 20th in points per drive. A passing game that ranks 21st in Expected Points Added (EPA) per throw has been the highlight, as quarterback Frank Harris ranks 25th in Pro Football Focus’s big-time throw rate metric.
The three-deep at receiver is also loaded, with UTSA’s Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus and De’Corian Clark combining for 2,253 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year.
The ground game hasn’t been anything special from an efficiency standpoint, but a heavy workload for running back Sincere McCormick has him ranked 10th nationally in rushing yards.
The Western Kentucky pass defense ranks 25th in EPA allowed per throw but hasn’t gotten much production from the front seven in the pass rush or against the run. That was a problem for the Hilltoppers in the first contest, as they didn’t generate a single sack and only pressured Harris four times.
Against the run, they allowed UTSA to gain 197 yards on 37 carries (5.2 per attempt) and a very high 57% Rushing Success Rate Allowed.
Both defenses are in for very tough tests in this matchup, which is reflected in the astronomical over/under in the rematch of a game that finished with 98 total points in the regular season.
Staff Pick: Western Kentucky -3.5
Western Kentucky vs. UTSA Over/Under
The total for Friday night’s Conference USA Championship game is the second-highest total of the week behind only the MAC title game. It originally opened at 71.5 and has since made its way up to 72.5 and as high as 73 at some shops.
Western Kentucky has hit or gone over the total of 73 points in half of its games so far this year, but UTSA has reached the number just once — against the Hilltoppers when they met in October.
In their October meeting, the Roadrunners edged out the Hilltoppers in a 52-46 shootout that saw both teams combine for more than 1,200 total yards of offense.
Both teams’ defenses have progressed since they met in October, but it’s going to take quite a performance to keep this game under the total.
Zappe has had potentially the best season of any quarterback in the country, throwing for 4,968 yards and 52 touchdowns while recording only nine interceptions. Zappe also ranks seventh in the nation in passing efficiency with a 70% completion rate. Western Kentucky averages a conference-best 43.3 points per game and sits second in the country behind only Ohio State.
Zappe has recorded at least three touchdowns in every game this season. As a team, the Hilltoppers have recorded 105 points in their last two games and at least 42 in their previous five.
The Roadrunners have one of the most balanced offenses in the country, ranking 49th in rush yards and 46th in passing yards per game.
Harris finished with a 66.3% completion rate, throwing for 2,688 yards, 23 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. However, the rest of the team has had issues protecting Harris, who has been sacked 12 times this season. But despite the protection issues, the Roadrunners average 36.9 points per game this season.
On the season, the Hilltoppers allow 27 points per game, while UTSA gives up 22.2 per game.
Defensively, UTSA was dominated by North Texas, surrendering a season-high 340 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, marking just the second time all season it’s allowed 45 points. The only other time was against Western Kentucky.
And since Western lost to UTSA, not only has it won out, but it hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in a game after giving up an average of 38 in its first five contests.
Our Action Network projections put this line at 66.7, establishing a solid edge on the under. But our college football staff is split, with seven taking the over and leaning to the under.
I think the defenses have improved since they last met, but it still won’t be enough to stay under the number this week. Take the over in what most of us expect to be another high-scoring Zappe Hour.
Staff Pick: Over 72.5
Western Kentucky vs. UTSA Player Props
Bailey Zappe Over 365.5 Passing Yards
I expected Zappe’s yardage prop to be completely inflated for this matchup considering the fact that he’s stuffed the stat sheet consistently throughout the year, but I’m not sure it’s set high enough here.
Only Mississippi State throws the ball more than Western Kentucky’s 67% pass rate, which has resulted in Zappe averaging 48.4 attempts and 414 yards per game. He’s surpassed this number in 9-of-12 contests, and 50% of his outings have resulted in more than 400 yards.
His best game of the season from a yardage standpoint actually came against this defense, when he lit the Roadrunners up for 523 yards on 60 attempts in October. Overall, he leads the conference in PFF passing grade and adjusted completion percentage.
It’s not hard to see Zappe repeating his dominant regular season performance against UTSA, considering the Roadrunners finished the regular season ranked 109th in yards allowed per pass attempt.
This could spiral into a shootout, and Zappe should abuse this secondary just like he’s done to most of his opponents in 2021.