There’s just one bowl game on the Wednesday slate, so the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl gets center stage as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5) meet the South Alabama Jaguars (10-2) at the Caesars Superdome.
These two teams don’t exactly get the primetime national TV spotlight, so you may not know much about either team. Western Kentucky is going to try to throw the football with one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country while USA is wrapping up their most successful FBS season and looking for the program’s first-ever bowl win.
South Alabama is a -4.5 favorite in this matchup.
Western Kentucky Passing Game Worth the Watch
The Hilltoppers definitely have value getting +4.5 points on Wednesday night because this is a team that can throw the ball at will. In fact, WKU had 344.3 pass yards/game this season, second in the country to only Washington.
Commanding that passing game is Austin Reed, a senior in eligibility but playing in his first FBS season after transferring from West Florida. Reed threw 14 TD passes over the last four games of the season and went for 375+ yards in three of those. He was one of just five QBs to throw for over 4,000 yards this season, and his 36 TDs were fourth most in the nation.
Big Test for South Alabama Defense
Obviously, the big question for New Orleans Bowl betting is if the Jaguars can stop this offensive attack from Western Kentucky – or survive in a shootout if they can’t. South Alabama did go blow for blow with UCLA in a 32-31 loss in week three, and they had an upset 36-24 at Central Michigan the week prior.
The most optimistic thing for SA backers is that they’ve held five of their last six opponents to 21 points or less. They’ve also scored at least 27 points in five straight, so the offense is clicking as well.
Jaguars QB Carter Bradley had a solid year, just 17 yards shy of 3,000 to go along with 25 TDs to 10 INTs. Half of those INTs have come in the last four games, though, which you don’t like to see late in the year.
South Alabama’s best option is going to be sticking with La’Damian Webb and the ground game, as he had 247 yards and four TDs in a win over Georgia Southern recently.
New Orleans Bowl Betting Pick
It really does look like the wrong squad is favored on Wednesday night. Sure, South Alabama is a 10-win team and hungry for the first bowl win in program history, but it just doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to keep up to the WKU passing attack.
South Alabama did have the #11 ranked total defense in the nation (303.4 ypg), but a lot of that was due to playing a strength of schedule that barely cracked the top 100 (93rd). Have to lean on the Hilltoppers’ offensive prowess in this one.
Pick: Western Kentucky +4.5