Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2021 College Football Preview
Created July 28, 2021
Record – 5-7
ATS – 3-9
The TOPPERS got off to a rough start losing six of their first eight games but get full marks for rallying and winning their final three regular season tilts. They slithered into bowl season and got smoked by a pretty good Georgia St squad in the TIMELESS CLASSIC called the Lending Tree Bowl (L 39-21).
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2021 Outlook
Yup. That stunk. They ended the year ranked #120 in the FBS in total offense (290 YPG) and were equally rotten on the ground (#102) and through the air (#111). GOOD THINGS are on the horizon with the import of explosive talent from Houston Baptist, a team that could probably hang 70 in most NFL teams.* QB Bailey Zappe threw for over 10,000Y and 78 TDs with the Huskies and automatically becomes one of the best QBs in C-USA. It’s impossible to talk enough about the upgrades at WR but just know that they bring in three WRs from Houston Baptist, as well as Oregon transfer Daewood Davis. TE Josh Simon had a fine 2020 season (33-370, 3 TD). They lose #1 RB Gaej Walker but get a talented and experience replacement from North Dakota St in Adam Cofield. They suffer some losses up front and it’ll be interesting to see how the new group supports the new offense. Yup, they’re gonna SCORE the FOOTBALL. <update: also scooped former Navy RB J Carothers>
* needs fact check
Western Kentucky was mighty stingy on defense LY (#28 FBS total defense) and were particularly effective defending the pass (#15 FBS pass efficiency D, 52%, 16-6 TD to INT). They only return four (!) starters on this side of the football and lose their fine DC Clayton White to the Gamecocks. The good news is that they should be able to get to the QB with the return of 1st Team C-USA member DE DeAngelo Malone (6 sk, 11 TFL, 9 QBH) and DE Juwuan Jones. DT Jeremy Darvin is solid inside. The LB needs a total reload in terms of starters and the secondary was decimated with seemingly every player hitting the transfer portal or graduating. One notable exception is their fine safety and #2 tackler Antwon Kincade (5.5 TFL, 8 PBU).
The Hilltoppers have the best kicking combo in C-USA with the return of PK Brayden Narveson (13/14 FG LY, 7-8 40+) and star P John Haggerty (45.7, 40.2 net). KR Beanie Bishop averaged 30.8 yards on four KR LY.
Overall – They have three tough non-conference games (Army, Indiana, Michigan St) after they’re opening FREE SQUARE (UT Martin). They miss UAB and Louisiana Tech from the West and get to face FAU at home. The season-ender at Marshall should have yuuuuge implications.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Michigan St (October 2nd)
This game follows a big home date with another Big Ten opponent (Indiana). Could be a letdown spot if they are able to SHOCK the WORLD vs the Hoosiers. Conference play is on deck.
Season Win Total
per 5Dimes July 28
Over 5.5 -110
Under 5.5 -110
They should have enough offense to cobble together six wins or more. The C-USA schedule is favorable.
The Hilltoppers are gonna look a lot different this year and will have a high-powered offense that’ll keep them in every game. The question becomes, will the defense be good enough to support a run for a division crown? At a minimum, there should be plenty of exciting shootouts this fall, and we’ll be surprised if they don’t find their way into a bowl game. #GoTops !
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