The busiest bowl day of the entire college football postseason is this Saturday and the first of six games features a pair of conference runners-up when Western Kentucky of Conference USA takes on Appalachian State of the Sun Belt in the Boca Raton Bowl.
This will be WKU’s second appearance in the Boca Raton Bowl, as the Hilltoppers previously claimed a 51-31 victory over Memphis on Dec. 20, 2016. Appalachian State is in this game for the first time.
Since making its FBS debut in 2014, App State has earned a bowl berth in each of its seven postseason-eligible seasons and posted an FBS-best 6-0 bowl record. The Mountaineers will be facing a Conference USA opponent for the fourth straight year. They beat Middle Tennessee and UAB in back-to-back New Orleans Bowl appearances in 2018 and 2019 before defeating North Texas in the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl. Last year, Camerun Peoples rushed for a bowl-record 317 yards and five touchdowns in the 56-28 win against the Mean Green.
Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State 2021 Boca Raton Bowl Game Information
- When: Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11:00 am ET
- Where: AU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: WBPM-FM 92.9 (Western Kentucky) / WBAL 101.5 FM (Appalachian State)
- Live Stream: WatchESPN
- College Football Odds: Western Kentucky (+3) / Appalachian State (-3)
Why Bet on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers?
Western Kentucky lost in the Conference USA title game, 49-41 at UTSA. In nearly leading a huge comeback, Hilltoppers quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 36-of-59 passes for 577 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The 577 yards were a C-USA Championship Game record as well as a career-high (eclipsing his 567 yards at Texas Tech while playing for Houston Baptist in 2020).
Zappe is now 442-of 639 passing (69.2%) for 5,545 yards, with 56 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The all-time single-season FBS yardage record is 5,833 by Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons during his 14-game 2003 season, while the single-season FBS touchdown record is 60 by LSU’s Joe Burrow during his 15-game 2019 campaign.
Zappe was named the MVP of Conference USA for the season. It marked the third time in eight seasons in C-USA that a Hilltopper has won the award, following quarterback Brandon Doughty’s back-to-back MVPs in 2014 and 2015.
Wide receiver Jerreth Sterns was named C-USA Newcomer of the Year and has 137 receptions for 1,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. His averages of 10.54 receptions and 132.2 yards per game lead all FBS receivers by 2.09 and 9.32, respectively, while his 14 scores are tied for third in the nation. Sterns’ 137 receptions are the seventh-most in a single season in FBS history and the most-ever by a C-USA player. His 1,718 yards are the 26th-most in FBS history; only four FBS receivers have ever reached the 1,900-yard plateau.
From 2020-to-2021, the Hilltoppers went from scoring 19.0 points per game to 43.1 (+24.1 increase leads the nation), scoring 2.0 offensive touchdowns per game to 5.2 (+3.2) and 164.3 passing yards per game to 434.6 (+270.3).
Why Bet on the Appalachian State Mountaineers?
Appalachian State lost in the Sun Belt title game 24-16 to Louisiana. The loss snapped the Mountaineers’ seven-game winning streak that dated back to their last game in Lafayette on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
App State entered the championship game as the nation’s leader in tackles for loss, and the Mountaineers racked up 10 more (including four sacks) against Louisiana. Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year D’Marco Jackson had 11 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack and four QB hurries.
The Mountaineers are No. 2 nationally with 109 tackles for loss (8.2 per game) while also ranking in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (No. 16, 19.3 points), total defense (No. 18, 325.5 yards), pass efficiency defense (No. 12, 114.7), interceptions (No. 10, 15), defensive touchdowns (No. 6, four), red zone defense (No. 15, 73.7 percent) and rushing defense (No. 19, 118.8).
Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State Betting Trends
- Hilltoppers are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 games as an underdog.
- Hilltoppers are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 games following a straight up loss.
- The total went over in 4 of Western Kentucky’s last 5 games.
- Mountaineers are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 games overall.
- Mountaineers are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 games in December.
- The total went under in 4 of Appalachian State’s last 5 games.
Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State Expert Betting Predictions
Pick: App State 34, Western Kentucky 31
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*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.