Start Time: 6 PM CT
TV: Find the channel for your provider in your area in this PDF.
Betting: WKU are predicted to win by seven, according to Oddshark.
The Series: LA Tech leads the all time series 4-3. Western won their last meeting in the 2016 Conference USA championship game 58-44. However, the Bulldogs won the regular season meeting of 2016 in Ruston 55-52.
Both of these teams are having similar seasons so far. Both had solid, but unimpressive wins against FCS teams in week one. Then in week two, both teams suffered tough losses to P5 teams that revealed some of their biggest weaknesses.
For Western Kentucky, it’s been a step back from the high powered offense that we’ve come to expect for a few different reasons. For one, the offensive line needs to show immediate improvement this week after giving up six sacks combined on Mike White in the first two weeks, along with a rough day in the run game against Illinois. WKU only netted six rushing yards in that one. This resulted in WKU opening up the left tackle spot to a position battle this week. The starter there won’t be revealed until Saturday morning. The Western defense, has been something of a bright spot for the Tops led by linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe with 21 tackles on the year (which ranks fourth in the league).
It’s also still a new system than some of the older players were used to under Jeff Brohm, and Mike Sanford seems confident that the growing pains will sort themselves out.
For LA Tech, they have some growing pains to deal with themselves. J’Mar Smith has stepped into the full time starter role this year and can stand to improve a bit. Coming into this week, he is 28 of 58 on passing attempts with two touchdowns and an interception. There’s also some issues on the offensive line, which the Mississippi State loss brought to light. Smith was sacked four times in that game and the Bulldogs lost 87 yards in one play on a bad snap that took an unfortunate turn.
On a positive note, the running back duo of Jarred Craft and Boston Scott has been a solid tandem with 167 yards and 151 rushing yards respectively. Those two against Western Kentucky’s defense, which has given up just one rushing touchdown thus far, will be an entertaining battle.
This will be a close game with probably far less scoring than either of last year’s battles. I think both teams clean up some of the mistakes we saw in the first two weeks. At the end of the day, I think Western Kentucky wins 31-21 provided they can get some passing momentum going and win the battle at the line of scrimmage.