Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State

Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State LendingTree Bowl | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on December 25, 2020

Both Western Kentucky of Conference USA and Georgia State of the Sun Belt Conference look to close their 2020 college football seasons on a winning note as they meet in Saturday’s LendingTree Bowl from Alabama. The Panthers are favored on the NCAAF odds.

How to Bet Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 3:30 PM ET
  • Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Georgia State -3.5 (total 50.5)

Series History

Third all-time meeting between the schools and they have split. The Panthers most recently defeated the Hilltoppers, 27-17, in the 2017 Cure Bowl in Orlando. Previously, WKU defeated Georgia State by a score of 44-28 in 2013.

Why Bet on Western Kentucky? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

WKU was only 1-of-19 teams in FBS that played 11 games in the regular season. The Hilltoppers (5-6) closed the regular season with a third straight win, 37-19 at Charlotte on Dec. 6.

Western Kentucky rushed for a season-high 218 yards, led by Gaej Walker’s 98 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome had 60 rush yards on eight carries, while completing 18-of-27 passes for a season-high 218 yards, with one touchdown and zero interceptions. Freshman wide receiver Dakota Thomas led WKU with 78 yards receiving, including a 37-yard catch in the third quarter.

If the game comes down to kickers, advantage WKU. Brayden Narveson was voted Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week while also earning a spot as a 2020 Lou Groza Award Semifinalist. He was 13-of-14 on field goal tries this season and 24-of-24 on extra point attempts. Among FBS kickers who have attempted 10-plus field goal tries this season, Narveson is tied for third with a 92.9% connection rate. He was named second-team All-Conference USA.

Senior defensive end DeAngelo Malone was named first-team all-conference. Malone – who was the 2019 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year – put up another productive year on The Hill as he had 65 total tackles, including 11 for loss, with six sacks, eight quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and even a blocked field goal. His 65 tackles rank second in FBS among defensive linemen, while his 11 tackles for loss rank second in C-USA and his six sacks stand tied for third.

For the second consecutive season, defensive coordinator Clayton White’s defense has been stellar. WKU ranks sixth in FBS with only 170.1 pass yards allowed per game. After the first game of the season at Louisville – in which WKU allowed 343 pass yards – the Hilltoppers have allowed only 152.8 pass yards on average over the past 10 games.

This will mark WKU’s 30th postseason game in program history, where the team owns an 18-11 all-time record.

Why Bet on Georgia State? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Panthers (5-4) beat Georgia Southern 30-24 on Nov. 28 in their finale for a second straight win. Cornelious Brown IV passed for a career-high 372 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 2:54 to play. Georgia State scored 17 fourth-quarter points to conclude its regular season with a winning record for the second straight year.

Sam Pinckney was Brown’s top target as the sophomore wideout finished with a career-high 10 catches for 126 yards. Cornelius McCoy joined him in the 100-yard column with five receptions for 111 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Bennett ranked No. 2 in the Sun Belt Conference with 227.3 passing yards per game. He completed 59.1% of his attempts for 2,046 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine picks. He directs a GSU offense that averages nearly 33 points per game.

Pinckney was Georgia State’s top receiver with 44 catches for 753 yards and six touchdowns. He was third in the Sun Belt in receiving yards and fourth in receptions and averages 17.1 yards per catch (No. 2 in Sun Belt). Running back Destin Coates was the No. 2 rusher in the Sun Belt with 81.5 yards per game and six touchdowns.

Georgia State’s defense leads the Sun Belt and ranks No. 7 FBS with a school-record 32 sacks, led by outside linebacker Jordan Strachan, who is No. 2 in the nation with 9.0 sacks.

The Panthers are playing in a bowl game for the third time in four seasons under coach Shawn Elliott. Wyoming defeated Georgia State 38-17 in the Arizona Bowl last season. The Panthers’ first bowl win was a 27-17 victory over Western Kentucky in the 2017 Cure Bowl.

Game Trends

  • Hilltoppers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games in December.
  • Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
  • Hilltoppers are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win.
  • Panthers are 3-8-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
  • Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in December.

Expert Prediction

  • Georgia State 27, Western Kentucky 24

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