The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-4) head to Texas at the end of December to battle the Western Michigan Broncos (7-5) in the 2019 First Responder Bowl. Kickoff is set for 12:30 PM EST on December 30th at Gerald J. Ford Stadium and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Taking a look at the full list of college bowl betting odds, Western Kentucky is currently listed as a 3.5-point favorite. The total for the game is sitting at 54.5 points. You can also click here to check out our 2019-20 bowl predictions page.
First Responder Bowl Vegas Odds Preview: Western Kentucky vs Western Michigan
Western Michigan won three out of their final four games to close out the regular season with a 7-5 record overall. The Broncos couldn’t find a way to get past Northern Illinois their last time out, falling 17-14 on the road. QB Jon Wassink went 17/33 for 185 passing yards through the air while RB LeVante Bellamy racked up 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns on a team-high 21 carries on the ground. Skyy Moore also chipped in, making nine receptions for 125 yards. As a whole, Western Michigan averaged 34 points and over 450 total yards of offense thorugh their first 12 outings.
The Broncos were pretty average on the other side of the ball this year, giving up just over 25 points and 400 total yards of offense per game. Western Michigan struggled to contain opposing offenses on the ground at times, allowing around 180 rushing yards on a weekly basis.
Western Kentucky racked up three consecutive victories over the final several weeks of the regular season to finish the year 8-4 overall. The Hilltoppers really played well on offense their last time out, beating Middle Tennessee 31-26 at the end of November. WKU trailed 13-10 at the half but really turned it on over the final two quarters of the game, outscoring the Blue Raiders 21-13 en route to an impressive comeback win. QB Ty Storey went 23/30 for 294 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. Overall, Western Kentucky averaged just over 25 points and 375 total yards of offense per game during the regular season.
The Hilltoppers were pretty strong defensively this year, limiting their opponents to 20 points and under 350 total yards of offense per game. Western Kentucky was especially strong defending against the run, surrendering under 140 rushing yards per outing.
2019 First Responder Bowl Free Betting Pick & Predictions: OVER 54.5
There doesn’t really appear to be a lot of value against the spread on either side of this particular matchup, as the number currently looks pretty efficient to me overall. I’m probably leaning towards laying the 3.5 points and rolling with WKU against the spread, as they were certainly the better team both outright and against the spread this year. However, I don’t feel very good about laying over a full field goal on Monday afternoon, as either school could find a way to win this game outright. Therefore, the only play from the 2019 First Responder Bowl that I’m really considering is the OVER on 54.5 total points scored.
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It is important to note that the Hilltoppers have now been involved in three straight games at neutral sites where the total went OVER. The OVER has also come through in four out of Western Kentucky’s last five outings overall as well. On the other side, the OVER has hit in four out of Western Michigan’s last six games away from Waldo Stadium. I’m going to avoid throwing darts against a very tough spread in favor of the OVER on 54.5 total points scored in what should be a tightly contested 2019 First Responder Bowl.