The New Orleans Bowl showcases the 10-2 South Alabama Jaguars from the Sun Belt and the 8-5 Western Kentucky Hilltopper from Conference USA in a game that should be as exciting as any in college football bowl season. We’ve got all the latest betting odds and a Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama prediction as we pick a winner of the New Orleans Bowl.
Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama Betting Preview
South Alabama (-4.5)
South Alabama (-195)
- Game time
9 p.m. ET
Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
- Predicted weather
56.6 degrees, cloudy, 11.2 mph winds
- How to watch
Bowl season is the most wonderful time of the year. It gives us the opportunity for more football, on an almost daily basis, which gives us the opportunity to bet on football. Should you be emptying your bank balance into the New Orleans Bowl, or is best to bet elsewhere? Let’s take a look at the Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama odds and decide if there are any lines worth backing.
Backing the Jaguars both on the moneyline and against the spread makes a ton of sense here. As we’ll get into shortly with our Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama prediction, the Hilltoppers have been ravaged by NFL draft declarations and transfer portal departures, so they won’t be anywhere near approaching full strength.
Kane Wommack’s team has won five straight, and all of their wins but one this season have come by more than the 4.5-point spread available from DraftKings Sportsbook. The two teams have averaged over 66 points between them this season, so the over/under line of 56 points feels easily accomplishable.
The defensive opt-outs will hurt Western Kentucky’s usually stellar pass defense, playing into the strength of South Alabama’s offense. While the only previous meeting between the two teams ended in a 31-24 win for the Jaguars, falling just shy of the points line, I’m willing to bank on a high-scoring affair to cover the over.
Prediction for New Orleans Bowl Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama
Can South Alabama finish the season in style in the Caesars Superdome? Will Western Kentucky succumb to the wonders of Wommack? Or with the Hilltoppers’ depleted side prove that playing for pride is far more powerful than even their potent offense normally is when at full strength? Our Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama prediction aims to answer all those questions and more.
Let’s start with Western Kentucky and their departure woes. At last count, there were 13 starters or significant contributors missing from their 8-5 2022 college football campaign. That doesn’t include quarterback Austin Reed who, after a brief dalliance with the transfer portal, returns to the Hilltoppers and will attempt to add to his 4,249 passing yards and 44 total touchdowns from this fall.
Sadly for Reed, those departures do include two pivotal pieces of his offensive line, with the man responsible for snapping the ball to the productive QB — Rusty Staats — in the transfer portal.
Meanwhile, speedy wide receiver Daewood Davis (872 yards, seven touchdowns) has opted out to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. They do, however, have leading pass catcher Malachi Corley available.
On the defensive side, leading tackler JaQues Evans is in the portal while Kahlef Hailassie, a defensive back with 10 pass breakups and two interceptions this fall, also won’t suit up in the New Orleans Bowl. Between Evans and Hailassie, Western Kentucky will be without their most disruptive backfield threat, with the two combining for 19 tackles for loss this season.
By contrast, South Alabama has one of the fewest departures/opt-outs of any team this CFB bowl season. In fact, the Jaguars were buoyed by the return of star running back La’Damian Webb for the 2023 campaign and he’ll suit up in the Superdome tonight. Webb rushed for 1,019 yards and 13 touchdowns this fall and will be a stern test for a Hilltoppers defense that is usually strong against the run.
That defense is usually strong against the passing game as well, allowing just 6.6 yards per pass play and 18 passing touchdowns this year. However, with several star pieces missing, expect Carter Bradley to find Caullin Lacy and Jalen Wayne early and often.
The two South Alabama receivers have combined for 15 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards this year. They can carry the load even if Devin Voisin doesn’t return from injury. Voisin has contributed 714 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Meanwhile, a stringent defense has allowed just 19.4 points per game, 6.3 yards per pass play, and a little over 300 total yards of offense per game. While Western Kentucky’s offense will be one of the more high-powered units they’ll face this season, the Jaguars should be able to outscore the Hilltoppers, while holding them under 30 points to record a win in the 2022 New Orleans Bowl.
The Jaguars have appeared in just two bowl games prior to their matchup with Western Kentucky, without registering a win in either. A first-ever bowl win for the program will be the cherry on top of a very tasty season for Wommack in his second season with South Alabama as they look to build a Sun Belt contender next campaign.
Prediction: South Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 27