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Jeff’s 2023-24 Conference USA Spotlight Football Team

By: Jeff Hochman
Date: Jul 22, 2023
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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Over 8.5 (+115)

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Under 8.5 (-140)

Western Kentucky to Win C-USA (+135)


First and foremost, credit must be given where it is due – the stellar coaching staff of the Hilltoppers. Under the guidance of head coach Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky has undergone a profound transformation. Known for his innovative tactics, strategic play-calling, and meticulous attention to detail, Helton has instilled a winning mentality within the team. With every practice and every game, his ability to motivate and nurture his players further cements their confidence and resilience. As a result, it's safe to say that the Hilltoppers will enter each contest superbly prepared and driven to outshine their opponents. Helton has a career record of 32-21, with three 9-win seasons in the last four years and hitting that mark in back-to-back campaigns. His strong performance has resulted in considerable earnings for bettors, with a 30-19 ATS record.

In 2023, Western Kentucky's offensive unit promises to be electrifying and leave spectators in awe. With the return of quarterback Austin Reed, their offensive firepower reaches new heights. His exceptional decision-making skills, intelligence, and sheer accuracy are unmatched. Austin's strong connection with the talented receiving corps, led by Malachi Corley, sets the stage for a dynamic aerial attack that few can rival. Junior receiver Corley, one of the best in the nation, returns after an impressive 2022 season where he racked up 1,239 yards on 101 receptions with 11 touchdowns. Additionally, Dalvin Smith and Blue Smith (who are not related) bring even more weapons to this already lethal offense with their height and length.

Furthermore, a solid offensive line (ranked No. 35) will provide the necessary protection and pave the way for a formidable rushing attack. Mark Goode is still around and could be a top lineman in Conference USA. With a multi-dimensional offense, the Hilltoppers will undoubtedly cause sleepless nights for opposing defenses. Reed, a Senior, looks to build on the 2022 season that saw him throw for 4,744 with a 40/11 TD/INT ratio and a QBR of 69.0, which ranked No. 37 in the nation.

This year, Western Kentucky is determined to win the conference. The teams that finished ahead of them last season, UTSA and North Texas, are no longer in the way. The Hilltoppers have a talented roster that is well-prepared to exceed expectations. They have a skilled and experienced quarterback leading their offense, which allows them to score big numbers. Furthermore, their versatile running game and dynamic receiving corps provide multiple offensive options that can take advantage of any weaknesses in opposing defenses.

Jaques Evans is set to make a strong return on the defensive side, presenting a formidable challenge for C-USA quarterbacks. With his exceptional speed and skill in maneuvering around opponents, he is poised to create difficulties for opposing offenses. As a junior edge rusher, he will be a player to keep an eye on for the Hilltoppers this year, and it is reasonable to expect him to achieve double-digit sacks. Evans had a great season last year with nine sacks and 107 tackles. He's likely to play professionally soon. Upton Stout, a defensive back, had an impressive four interceptions last year. Although he might not be able to neutralize all the top receivers they face completely, his partnership with fellow cornerback Talique Allen can lead to impactful plays and effectively hinder opposing passing.

Western Kentucky has the most promise in a watered-down Conference USA. With their impressive talent, excellent coaching, and favorable odds, they are likely to surpass their win total of 8.5 this season. Additionally, the Hilltoppers get to play Liberty and Middle Tennessee State at home. After facing Ohio State on September 16th, they are expected to have a record of 2-1. Western Kentucky should win at least nine games; the odds are to the bettors' advantage at plus money.

My Selection: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Over 8.5 (+115)

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  Jeff Hochman
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