Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 19th, 4:00PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium
by Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WKU +1.5 / IU -1.5
Western Kentucky goes on the road to face Indiana in a battle of 2-0 teams looking to build upon the momentum of early season success.
The Hilltoppers enter this weeks matchup riding a seven game winning streak dating back to last season. They got past Vanderbilt 14-12 on the road to begin 2015 and last week outscored Louisiana Tech 41-38 to get revenge on the previous years 59-10 November 1st loss, the last game WKU was beaten in. The payback victory came with a price though, as they lost running back Leon Allen for the year to a horrific knee injury and will now enter Saturdays matchup having to use their third and fourth string running backs as expected backup Ace Wales is on the shelf also due to a knee injury. Thankfully all hope is certainly not lost in Kentucky as they still have Brandon Doughty at quarterback, who last season threw for 4,830 yards and 49 touchdowns to lead a passing offense that ranked second in the NCAA in 2014 and has started off well in 2015, averaging 325 yards passing per game and throwing two touchdowns by getting the ball early and often to familiar wide receiver targets Taywan Taylor and Antwane Grant along with senior tight end Tyler Higbee.
Playing a Big-10 team on the road is never easy, but Western Kentucky does have a recent history of success against Power 5 conferences, having already won at Vandy this year along with victories against Kentucky in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. They also have established quality success winning close games under second year head coach Jeff Brohm, as the team has won their last four games by a total of just seven points. This is the strongest football team Western Kentucky has had in their history and another win against a power conference team would go a long in driving the team forward toward respectability and possibly their first Conference-USA championship.
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Indiana has started the year with back-to-back close wins, which doesnt say much for the team considering their opponents were Southern Illinois, a non FBS school, and Florida International, a team with just eight wins over the past three seasons and that still employs the same success-poison athletic director that once hired Isiah Thomas to coach the basketball team which led to easily predictable disastrous results. They only beat Southern Illinois by a point, 48-47, and were losing in the fourth quarter to FIU before needing a 96 yard interception return for a touchdown as Florida International was driving to tie the score in the games final minutes to seal the victory in hard fought 36-22 win. The offense hasnt been the issue for the Hoosiers, as the combo of quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who has looked strong since returning from a shoulder injury that ended his season last year, and running back Jordan Howard that has been their dominant force. Howard, last years Conference USA first team RB has started the year strong, rushing 47 times for 304 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and scoring three touchdowns while Sudfeld has passed for two touchdowns and also run in two of his own and appears to have found a favorite target in junior wide receiver Ricky Jones, who has eleven catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns over the first two games of the year after having just four receptions in his previous two seasons.
A glaring issue for the Hoosiers, especially going up against a prolific passing offense like Western Kentucky, is their pass defense which has let up 660 yards and seven touchdowns in the air in just two games against lackluster teams.. Their defensive backfield was already inexperienced coming into the year after ranking 94th last year against the pass, and now two defensive back starters, Rashard Fant and Chase Dutra, are not expected to play Saturday which should lead to a very productive day for the Hilltopper passing attack, which is supported by Doughtys top five ranking as a fantasy quarterback in daily fantasy leagues for this weekends games. Indiana has gone to just one bowl game in the past twenty two seasons and hasnt done well recently when experiencing any sort of success as they have covered the spread just once in the past nine games after a win. They have squeaked by with victories over two inferior teams to start the year, but that streak will come to an end as Western Kentucky will again cover as an underdog (25-6 against the spread in their last 31 games as a dog) and get the upset win in an expected high scoring matchup at Memorial Stadium against the Hoosiers.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Western Kentucky +1.5