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UTSA, Western Kentucky Collide In C-USA Final

Frank Harris & Roadrunners open as slight favorites in C-USA final odds.

After having its dreams of an unbeaten season dashed last week, UTSA (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) looks to bounce back in its first-ever trip to the Conference USA championship game. Western Kentucky (8-4, 9-3) has won seven straight games since losing at home to UTSA in early October.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs UTSA Roadrunners
  • Date/Time: December 3, 7 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: The Alamodome
  • TV Coverage: CBS Sports Network
  • Opening Odds: UTSA -2.5 | O/U 74.5 (Line History)
  • Western Kentucky vs UTSA Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The Roadrunners were 3.5-point underdogs when they upset Western Kentucky 52-46 earlier this season, and they might be dogs again in the rematch. After opening as 2.5-point favorites, UTSA had flipped to a 1-point underdog by the time of writing, while the total had dipped a few points to 72 at most betting sites.

Western Kentucky News & Notes

The Hilltoppers have plenty of momentum coming into the C-USA final, having overcome a 1-4 SU start to the campaign by closing the season with seven straight wins. Western Kentucky had to dig itself out of a big early hole in its season finale as well, rallying from a 14-0 deficit to whip Marshall 53-21 and clinch its berth in the conference championship game.

Senior defensive end DeAngelo Malone sparked the comeback with a huge hit on the Marshall quarterback late in the first half, knocking him out of the game and forcing a fumble that WKU recovered. The Hilltoppers then began the second half with three consecutive touchdown drives and never looked back, outscoring the Thundering Herd 47-7 in the final 30 minutes.

Quarterback Bailey Zappe threw four touchdown passes in the win, two of them long connections with receiver Daewood Davis.

“We’re a big-play offense … We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in college football so once we get going … I don’t think there’s (any) defense out there that can stop us,” Davis told the Bowling Green Daily News.

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UTSA News & Notes

If Western Kentucky has all the momentum in this matchup, UTSA has all the motivation in its first trip to a conference championship game. The Roadrunners’ hopes of an undefeated season and top-25 ranking came to a disappointing end last week with a 45-23 loss at North Texas in which UTSA came unraveled on both sides of the ball.

The Roadrunners had five fumbles in the first half alone — three of which the Mean Green converted into touchdowns — and had just 70 passing yards through the first three quarters of the game. Defensively, UTSA couldn’t stop the run, allowing a whopping 340 rushing yards.

“Nobody wanted to go undefeated more than we did, so that hurts terribly bad,” coach Jeff Traylor told the San Antonio Express-News. “We’re extremely embarrassed by our performance. None of us saw this coming.”

Potentially making matters worse for the Roadrunners, starting quarterback Frank Harris left last week’s loss late in the first half with an apparent injury. Josh Adkins relieved Harris for the rest of the game, and the status of Harris — named the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose National Player of the Week after his previous game — was unknown at the time of writing.

How Western Kentucky Will Cover

Experience could be a big factor in this game as the Hilltoppers make their third trip to the C-USA final while UTSA has never appeared in a title contest. WKU’s big-play offense also enters this game on a roll, having put up at least 42 points in five straight games and in seven of their last eight.

How UTSA Will Cover

Maybe losing their final regular-season game will be a blessing in disguise. The Roadrunners have plenty to fix this week in practice to atone for their ugly performance last time out against North Texas, and they should be hungry to prove their 11-0 SU start wasn’t a fluke.

Computer Pick: Western Kentucky -1.5

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Shark Bites
  • Western Kentucky is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games.
  • UTSA is 0-3 ATS in its last 3 games.
  • The OVER is 4-1 in UTSA’s last 5 games.