Austin Peay vs Western Kentucky Odds, Picks and Predictions: Governors Overruled

No Bailey Zappe? No problem. Western Kentucky still has more than enough weapons remaining to crush Austin Peay when the two teams clash in Week 0.

Jason Ence - Betting Analyst at
Jason Ence • Betting Analyst
Aug 26, 2022 • 10:50 ET • 4 min read
Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Week 0 of the college football season kicks off Saturday afternoon, and football-starved fans will be tuning in to watch Austin Peay, an FCS program, travel 60 miles up the road to face Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are coming off one of the most explosive offensive seasons in recent memory, while the Governors will be playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2022 after years in the Ohio Valley.

While both teams have replaced key contributors from the 2021 season, Western has the biggest shoes to fill with the departure of Bailey Zappe. Can the Hilltoppers have another successful season without their record-setting quarterback, or will they struggle to replicate their success from a year ago? Let’s find out in our free NCAAF picks and predictions for Austin Peay vs. Western Kentucky on Saturday, August 27.

Austin Peay vs Western Kentucky odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

After opening as a three-touchdown favorite, the Hilltoppers now find themselves favored by 26.5 points at most books. The total has changed very little, however, opening at 66.0 points and only moving up a half-point over the past few days.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full college football odds before placing your bets.

Austin Peay vs Western Kentucky predictions

Predictions made on 8/26/2022 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Austin Peay vs Western Kentucky game info

Location: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY
Date: Saturday, August 27, 2021
Kick-off: 12:00 p.m. ET

Austin Peay vs Western Kentucky betting preview


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Key injuries

Austin Peay: None
Western Kentucky: None
Find our latest College football injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Hilltoppers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Austin Peay vs. Western Kentucky.

Austin Peay vs Western Kentucky picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

Austin Peay has made the move from the Ohio Valley Conference to the Atlantic Sun this season, and it's done so with virtually a new roster. 47 new players, including 22 transfers, will take the sideline on Saturday, with more than half the team's offensive starters gone. That includes quarterback Draylen Ellis, who transferred to Tennessee State after being suspended from the team in January.

Backup Sheldon Layman, who started two games last season, will take his place after being named starter this week by head coach Scotty Walden. However, he is not the athletic runner that Ellis was, and his accuracy on the deep ball is poor at best. He threw for just 353 yards in nine games last season.

He will have two important receivers back at least, with Drae McCray and CJ Evans returning. McCray caught 53 passes for 882 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman, and Evans is a player who will line up in the slot as well as in the backfield. Josh Samuels, a transfer from Jacksonville State and a former Hilltopper, will take over the running back duties following the departures of Ahmaad Tanner and Brian Snead.

Defensively, they’ve lost a number of key players. Terrell Allen took his five sacks and 11 tackles for loss to Tennessee State, and OVC Defensive Player of the year Kobe Perry has graduated after a season that saw him rack up 85 tackles. Their star defensive back, Jonathan Edwards, also graduated, taking seven interceptions with him. They will hope Shamari Simmons can step up, after recording 50 tackles and four picks in 2021.

If Western Kentucky can capture a portion of the success they had last season, it will be quite an achievement. Bailey Zappe re-wrote the FBS record books by throwing for 5,697 yards and 62 touchdowns last season. He is now on an NFL roster, as is stud wide receiver Jerreth Sterns. Their other star receiver, Mitchell Tinsley, took a step up and headed to Penn State via the transfer portal, where he is projected to start for the Nittany Lions.

Many expected Zappe to be replaced by West Virginia transfer Jarret Doege, who has thrown for more than 10,000 yards in his five-year career. However, Doege transferred right back out of the program a few weeks ago, heading to Troy after being beaten out by Division II transfer Austin Reed. The former West Florida quarterback went 22-3 as a starter and threw for more than 3,400 yards last season, along with 38 touchdowns, and impressed the coaching staff with his poise and arm.

Head coach Tyson Helton will also have a new play-caller on the sideline, as both of his co-offensive coordinators left for promotions this offseason. The offense is still expected to be predicated on the passing attack, however. Reed has a pair of strong returning receivers to throw to, with Malachi Corley and Daewood Davis combining to catch 106 passes last season for more than 1,450 yards and 15 touchdowns. They also brought in Akron receiver Michael Mathison, who caught 56 passes in 2021.

While the offense is replacing seven starters, the defense returns seven of its own. Although standout linebacker DeAngelo Malone took off for the NFL, Western Kentucky returns the core of a group that forced 31 turnovers, the second-most in the nation. 20 of those turnovers came by way of interceptions, led by returning cornerback Kahlef Hailassie. Austin Peay will also have to contend with defensive end Juwuan Jones, who has played nearly 50 games in his career.

While Western lost a ton of talent, the program brought in 17 transfers from Power 5 programs to help fill the gaps. They return a plethora of receiving options, along with tight end Joshua Simon. More importantly, they return two outstanding offensive linemen, including Quantavious Leslie, an Outland Trophy watch list player who is considered one of the best line prospects in the upcoming draft.

Western Kentucky will have no reason to pull back the reins in a game where the Hilltoppers should take an early lead and force Austin Peay to throw more than it's comfortable with. The downfield inaccuracy of Layman should lead to plenty of empty possessions–if not interceptions–and the Hilltoppers will want to see what their offense can do on every possession. I expect Western Kentucky to win by at least four touchdowns and to cover the spread.

Prediction: Western Kentucky -26.5 (-115 at BetRivers)

Over/Under analysis

The total in this contest has remained consistent since when the lines came out, in part because there are real questions about whether Reed & Co. can come close to repeating what this offense did a year ago. It’s a valid question, as you’re not only replacing Zappe’s production but you’re having to figure out just how similar the offensive play-calling will be.

For me, that’s part of what makes the Under so appealing. Austin Peay’s offense is not going to be able to push the ball down the field with Layman’s inaccurate arm, which means the Governors' only hope is to run the ball and get it into the hands of McCray and Evans with quick-hitters. This should shorten the game a bit, at least for a half, and help the number trend low, even if WKU is able to put points up in bunches.

Prediction: Under 66.5 (-118 at BetRivers)

Best bet

Games like these for schools like Austin Peay are less about results, and more about funding the athletic program for the year. That said, it doesn’t make the beatings sting any less. In their last four games against FBS opponents, all on the road, the Governors have lost by at least 35 points in each, and have fallen by an average of 43 points.

Austin Peay’s defense has some decent playmakers, but its lack of a pass rush will be the team's downfall against Western Kentucky's outstanding offensive line. Reed should have plenty of time to find one of his numerous weapons, and while the Governors might make a game of it for a half, Western Kentucky should pull away and easily cover the number.

With the limited options available in the betting market for this game, taking the Hilltopers and laying the points is your best option.

PickWestern Kentucky -26.5 (-115 at BetRivers)

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Did you know that if you parlayed our Austin Peay vs. Western Kentucky picks, you could win $24.54 on a $10 bet?

Use our college football parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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