UTSA Roadrunners vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Picks and Game Preview - 10/09/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 7 p.m. ET, October 9, 2021
Venue: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY
Where to watch: N/A

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Western Kentucky -3
BetMGM: Western Kentucky -2.5
Caesars: Western Kentucky -2.5

Season record
UTSA: 5-0 (1-0 Conference USA)
Western Kentucky: 1-3

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UTSA - Western Kentucky preview and analysis

Recent form
UTSA: won 24-17 vs. UNLV on Oct. 2
WKU: lost 48-31 at No. 11 Michigan State on Oct. 2

Good job if you chalked up the UTSA Roadrunners nearly choking away a game against the UNLV Rebels.

It's been a fun 5-0 start for the Roadrunners, but it'll come to an end Saturday when they're on the road against the high-flying Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

The Hilltoppers are coming off a 17-point loss against the Michigan State Spartans in an outcome that was wildly expected. Bailey Zappe threw for 488 yards and three touchdowns, but the running game could only muster 72 yards on 26 carries.

WKU put up 31 points, but the defense couldn't stop Michigan State's balanced attack of Payton Thorne (327 passing yards, 1 TD) and Kenneth Walker III (126 rushing yards, 3 TD). Wide receivers Jerreth Sterns (186 yards, 1 TD) and Mitchell Tinsley (127 yards) did their part. 

Tight end Joey Beljan caught two passes for five yards ... and two touchdowns. Deserving of a shoutout. Western Kentucky has dropped three straight after its season-opening win over Tennessee-Martin. It's been close games throughout, though; losing by three to Army, two to Indiana, and then Michigan State (but you give some leeway for facing one of the best defenses in the country).

It turned out to be another solid day for the UTSA offense, but the fact UNLV kept it as close as they did is cause for concern. Frank Harris played a clean game (278 yards, 2 TD), Sincere McCormick had less than four yards per carry but still had 89 yards and a touchdown.

The UTSA defense had six sacks on UNLV freshman quarterback Cameron Friel and picked him off twice, but Friel still passed for 307 yards and UTSA gave up too many big plays.

Sure, the Roadrunners gave up 17 points, but try doing that against this offense that averages 441.5 passing yards per contest andis putting up nearly 40 points per game. Rest assure, a 6-0 start for UTSA would make things interesting.


UTSA needed a last-drive stop on UNLV and a come-from-behind win over Memphis to reach 5-0. That defense is great, but I don't trust it to get enough stops on that WKU passing attack to keep it close. WKU by 5

Betting trends

UTSA is 5-1 in its last six against the spread as a road dog of seven points or less.

Western Kentucky is 5-1 ATS in its last six when the line is between +3 to -3.

Players to watch

UTSA: It was a big day for De’Corian Clark against UNLV. He had a team-high 109 yards and a touchdown in the win against the Rebels.

Western Kentucky: While Jerreth Sterns had his big day last week (17 catches, 186 yards, 1 TD), Mitchell Tinsley also went over the century mark with 127 yards on seven receptions.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Frank Harris -- 1,126 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Sincere McCormick -- 541 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Zakhari Franklin -- 397 yards, 4 TD

Western Kentucky:
Passing: Bailey Zappe -- 1,712 yards, 16 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Noah Wittington -- 111 yards
Receiving: Jerreth Sterns -- 546 yards, 5 TD

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this UTSA - Western Kentucky prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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