The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are tied as the second-most profitable team in FBS college football. They covered in their first five games this season and each of their final nine games last season and they put the incredible 14-game money streak on the line Thursday against the Troy Trojans.
So, are they the best-kept betting secret in college football?
“From a value perspective, unfortunately, I think the ship has already sailed when it comes to the Hilltoppers,” cautions Covers Expert Sean Murphy. “They were an under-the-radar team early this season, but upset road wins against Kentucky and Arkansas State have brought them some attention, and now we find them favored away from home for just the second time in program history at the FBS level. Troy is coming off a miserable 2011 campaign, but looks to be on its way back up here in 2012. All things considered, this is a tough spot to lay points with WKU against a proven Sun Belt performer.”
But not all of the Covers Experts share the same opinion. Ted Sevransky says the smart money is pouring in on Troy this week and he wouldn’t be “completely shocked if the Hilltoppers go off.” Most books opened WKU as 2.5-point road favorites, but that number has now been bet down to just a single point.
Here are five things bettors should know about the Hilltoppers heading into their Week 7 tilt with the Troy Trojans:
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Troy Trojans (1, 54)
1. WKU picked up its first-ever victory over Troy last season, closing out the 2011 campaign with a 41-18 win over the Trojans in Bowling Green. The Hilltoppers will now look for their first win on Troy's home field, as the Trojans have won four of the five previous meetings on their home field, with the other contest resulting in a tie. Troy leads the all-time series 8-1-1.
2. Hilltoppers QB Kawaun Jakes will wear a left knee brace for Thursday's game. Jakes was hurt in WKU’s 26-13 victory at Arkansas State on Sept. 29 and was sidelined in the second half. The results from an MRI last week were negative but Jakes has been limited to mostly individual drills in practice this week.
3. The Hilltoppers have won eight consecutive Sun Belt Conference games dating back to last season. That is the longest active conference-game winning streak in the Sun Belt and the third-longest active run in the nation.
4. WKU is 11-2 in its last 13 games, with the only two losses coming at the hands of the No. 1-ranked teams - LSU last season and Alabama earlier in 2012.
5. WKU junior RB Antonio Andrews established a new career high for rushing yards for the third consecutive week as he ran for 215 yards on 29 carries at Arkansas State.