Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Welcome to 100 Miles of Hate

Middle Tennessee has a stout rushing defense. However, Western Kentucky almost exclusively attacks via the air, which is where the Blue Raiders are vulnerable. Our betting picks like the Hilltoppers to take another edition of the 100 Miles of Hate rivalry.

Sep 28, 2023 • 16:07 ET • 4 min read
Austin Reed Western Kentucky Hilltoppers College Football NCAA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Tonight features the fiercest rivalry in Conference USA when Middle Tennessee meets Western Kentucky in both team's conference opener. 

College football odds position Western Kentucky as a -5.5 favorite with a 60.5-point total when the two sides meet in their annual "100 Miles of Hate" matchup. 

Please join us as we share our best free college football picks and predictions for Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky on Thursday, September 28. 

Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky best odds

Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky picks and predictions

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have won the previous four "100 Miles of Hate" rivalry games over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. On Thursday night, Western Kentucky will be led by a vastly underrated defense and an offense that can light up a scoreboard.

Western Kentucky has a solid defense that isn’t reflected in the stats sheet. Outside of the 63 points they allowed to Ohio State, the Hilltoppers defense has surrendered 75 points over their other three games fueled by the "Takeaway Tops."

This defense lived up to its nickname in 2022, where it recorded 32 forced takeaways and scored six defensive TDs. This season, the Takeaway Tops are tied for second in the nation with 11 takeaways, and the defense has recorded two TDs. 

The Hilltoppers defense is second in points allowed and third in total yards allowed, with the second-most sacks in the conference.  Western Kentucky safety Kendrick Simpkins leads C-USA with 1.8 tackles for a loss per game and faces a Middle Tennessee offense allowing 10 sacks through their first four games.

Middle Tennessee can score and is No. 7 in the conference in scoring, but penalties and turnovers hurt them. The Blue Raiders have been penalized 33 times for 301 yards for an average of 75 yards of penalties per game. 

Sophomore QB Nicholas Vattiato has thrown for 916 yards with seven scoring strikes and two picks and has scampered for an additional 133 rushing yards and a TD. He has speedy wideouts and a solid RB in Jaiden Credle, but the Takeaway Tops will get the stops it needs to give the offense a chance to cover against a robust Blue Raiders defense.

Hilltoppers QB Austin Reed led the nation in passing in 2022, and he’s picked up where he left off by throwing for 1,071 yards with nine TDs and one interception. He’s been sacked twice and rushed for a pair of TDs. Reed will throw the ball 35-45 times Thursday night. He has four receivers with over 100 receiving yards and eight different targets have hauled in at least one scoring strike this season.

The Middle Tennessee defense is solid and ranks No. 1 in C-USA against the rush but 12th against the pass, and they will be in trouble Thursday night against this pass-first, run-optional Hilltoppers offense.

Finally, Western Kentucky has the defense to stop a very good Blue Raiders offense with a quarterback who can beat this team in what will likely be his final "100 Miles of Hate" rivalry game. Look for Reed and the Western Kentucky offense to light up the scoreboard and the defense to get enough stops at home to cover the -5.5.

My best bet: Western Kentucky -5.5 (-110 at Caesars)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.

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Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky same-game parlay

Western Kentucky -5.5

Under 59.5

The defenses are solid, and this being a rivalry game on a hot, humid night may not lead to a high-scoring affair. Over their last five meetings, the Under has a record of 3-2, and I suspect we’ll see a hard-hitting contest with each defense coming up with the stops to keep this game Under the 59.5-point total.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky spread and Over/Under analysis

The "100 Miles of Hate" game is the fiercest rivalry in C-USA. The Hilltoppers have won four consecutive matchups and would love to make it five. Here are some additional notes for Thursday night.

The Hilltoppers are 36-35-1 in this rivalry. In 10 meetings from 2010-2020, the teams went to double-overtime twice and triple-overtime twice, and only two games were decided by more than five points. The Hilltoppers won by double-digits in the last two meetings, including last season’s 35-17 away victory. 

Western Kentucky head coach Tyson Helton is 4-0 in the rivalry and is 3-1 in C-USA season openers since taking the job.

MTSU has recorded 37 interceptions over their last two seasons but has just one interception this season.

According to CollegePressBox,  Middle Tennessee punter Miles Tillman enters Thursday night’s contest with a 45.3-yard average, which would rank 12th nationally, and the Blue Raiders have seven players on their roster with at least one blocked kick.

Hilltoppers wideout Malachi Corley led the nation in receiving yards in 2022 and has 250 yards and two touchdowns on 21 receptions in three games thus far. 

Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky betting trend to know

The Hilltoppers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following a straight-up loss, and the Under is 6-0-1 in Hilltoppers' last seven conference games. Find more college football betting trends for Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky.

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Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky game info

Location: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY
Date: Thursday, September 28, 2023
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

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Middle Tennessee vs Western Kentucky weather

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