LendingTree Bowl Odds & Picks: Betting Value Sits With Georgia State Over Western Kentucky
Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured Quavian White and Bryquice Brown
- The Georgia State Panthers will take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the LendingTree Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
- BJ Cunningham doesn't have much faith in the Hilltoppers' offense, leaving him to back the Panthers.
- Check out Cunningham's full betting preview with updated odds below.
Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky Odds
The Sun Belt battles Conference USA on Saturday in the LendingTree Bowl as Georgia State takes on Western Kentucky.
Western Kentucky finished its season on a three-game winning streak, which brought its record to 5-6. The Hilltoppers went through a major lull on the offensive side of the ball for most of the season but did put up over 30 points in their last two games of the season.
Georgia State finished its season back on Nov. 28, so this will be its first game in almost a month. The Panthers finished the regular season with a 5-4 record, and outside of a 51-0 loss to Coastal Carolina, all of its losses were within one score.
Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State has been relying on a freshman at quarterback all season, but Cornelious Brown has done an admirable job, throwing for 7.5 yards per attempt and 14 touchdowns.
Sophomore Sam Pinckney is the Panthers’ big-play receiver, and he’s been lighting up opposing secondaries with over 300 yards on only 15 catches in his last two games. He’ll be a matchup nightmare for a Western Kentucky secondary that struggles to limit explosive passing plays.
The real heart and soul of this Georgia State offense is its rushing attack. The Panthers run the ball on over 57% of their plays and average 4.4 yards per carry. Western Kentucky’s weakness on defense is in the front seven, so I expect Georgia State to establish the run early and often.
The defensive side of the ball has been a bit of a struggle for Panthers, mainly because of their inability to limit explosive plays. Georgia State is 93rd in explosive plays allowed, per College Football Data, which has been the main reason why they’ve given up over 30 points in half of their games this season.
However, the good news is they’ll be facing one of the least explosive offenses in the country, so they could get a break on Saturday.
The bread and butter of this defense is in its front seven. Georgia State ranks 31st in Defensive Rushing Success and third in Power Success Allowed. That should come in handy on Saturday, as Western Kentucky’s offensive strength is its rushing attack.
The secondary has been a problem this season, as the Panthers are allowing 7.4 yards per attempt and rank 81st in Defensive Passing Success. However, this will be the worst passing offense they’ve seen all season, so they shouldn’t have too many issues on Saturday.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
The Hilltoppers offense is flat out putrid.
Former Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome has been in charge of the Western Kentucky offense this season and has put up a horrible 5.7 yards per attempt average. That has led Western Kentucky to rank in the bottom 30 of college football in both Passing Success and passing explosiveness, per College Football Data.
The rushing attack for Western Kentucky hasn’t been much better, as it’s averaging only 3.9 yards per carry as a team.
Top running back Gaej Walker has struggled to repeat his stellar 2019 season, as he’s only eclipsed the 100-yard mark once this season compared to seven times last year. Georgia State’s strength is in its front seven, so the Hilltoppers are likely going to struggle to establish a run game on Saturday.
The strength of this Western Kentucky defense is in its secondary.
The Hilltoppers allow only 6.3 yards per attempt and rank 18th in Defensive Passing Success. In fact, over their last four games, they’ve allowed only 5.25 yards per attempt. So, Brown and the Georgia State passing attack will likely struggle on Saturday.
Where this Western Kentucky defense is prone to getting gashed is in the run game. It’s allowing 4.3 yards per attempt and ranks 94th in explosive rushing plays allowed, which won’t bode well against Georgia State’s rushing attack.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With how bad Western Kentucky’s offense has been this season, it’s hard to imagine it will be able to find any type of consistency in this game. Georgia State’s rushing attack should be able to find some success against an average Western Kentucky front seven.
I have the Panthers projected as -7.19 favorites in this game, so I think there’s some value in backing them at -3.5.
Pick: Georgia State -3.5 (up to -4.5)