- Georgia State is a 3.5-point favorite over Western Kentucky in the Lending Tree Bowl on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
- Western Kentucky has won three game in a row and Georgia State is coming off back-to-back victories
- Read below for a preview of the game and our best bet
Two teams with so-so records who played well during the final weeks of the regular season meet in the Lending Tree Bowl.
Western Kentucky faces Georgia State in the 22nd edition of the game at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Georgia State of the Sun Belt Conference is a small favorite over their Conference USA foe.
Lending Tree Bowl Western Kentucky vs Georgia State Odds
|Western Kentucky||+146||+3.5 (-115)||Over 50.5 (-110)|
|Georgia State||-180||-3.5 (-105)||Under 50.5 (-105)|
Odds taken Dec. 24 from FanDuel
Western Kentucky enters the game on a three-game winning streak to improve its record to 5-6. Against the spread, the Hilltoppers are 4-7.
Georgia State has won three of its last four games to nudge its record over .500 to 5-4. The Panthers record ATS is also 5-4.
Bowling in Bowling Green
The strong finish enabled Western Kentucky to reach a bowl game for the seventh time in the last nine seasons.
𝗪𝗲’𝗿𝗲 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗯𝗼𝘄𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴🎳 @WKUFootball pic.twitter.com/r5TDgw5PoI
— Chris Rippy (@ChrisRippy_) December 14, 2020
It also helped the Hilltoppers that the NCAA dropped its requirement during this pandemic-affected season of a team needing to have at least a .500 record to be bowl-eligible.
Western Kentucky has a standout defensive player in senior end De’Angelo Malone. He has six sacks this season along with 65 overall tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and eight quarterback hurries.
Malone’s ability to consistently apply pressure to the quarterback has resulted in the Hilltoppers ranking eighth in the nation in pass defense with 170.1 yards allowed a game.
EDGE DeAngelo Malone (@debomalone18) squeezes/surfs the down block & plays with great eye discipline as he watches the mesh. Once he recognizes the QB has the ball, he gets vertical & sacks him. Textbook! #gotops pic.twitter.com/N9j9RDjJya
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) July 19, 2020
While Western Kentucky is allowing 24.1 points a game, its scoring average is just 18.8.
However, quarterback Tyrell Pigrome has come on strong as the season has progressed. The graduate transfer from Maryland has thrown for 1,423 yards and nine touchdowns while not being intercepted in 264 attempts.
If Pigrome can go pick-free in this game, he would set the FBS record for most passing attempts in a season without an interception. The mark is 224 by Virginia’s Matt Blundin in 1991.
Western Kentucky also has one of the nation’s top kickers in Brayden Narveson, who is 13 of 14 in field goal attempts.
CBIV Leads Georgia State Charge
Georgia State is coming off its first back-to-back wins of the season and redshirt freshman quarterback Cornelious Brown IV has led the way.
Brown set a career-high with 334 passing yards against South Alabama then bettered that with a 372-yard performance versus Georgia Southern in the regular-season finale. The one drawback, though, is Brown, threw four interceptions in those two games against only one touchdown pass.
Overall, Brown has passed for 2,046 yards and 14 TDs this season.
Georgia State beat some big schools in recruiting to land Brown.
Big get for the Panthers! QB Cornelious Brown IV (@slide_quad ) commits to Georgia State over Bama and others… #L19htItBlue #PantherFamily https://t.co/lxdBdYi9ul
— Bryce Koon (@bryce_koon) December 9, 2018
His favorite target has been wide receiver Sam Pinckney, who has 44 receptions for 753 yards and six touchdowns. Pinckney has a combined 15 receptions for 302 yards in the last two games.
The Panthers defense has also been solid lately following some early-season struggles. They have given up an average of just 18.2 points in the last three games after allowing 40.2 points in the first six games.
Georgia State will be facing a Western Kentucky offense that has been very efficient in the latter stages of the season. The Hilltoppers have not had a turnover in four games, which is the longest active streak in the nation.
Third Time Around
This will be just the third meeting between the schools. The last came in the 2017 Cure Bowl, which Georgia State won 27-17 in Orlando behind 276 passing yards from Conner Manning and Glenn Smith’s 108 yards rushing.
Look for the Hilltoppers to keep things close as they try avenge that loss and finish the season with a .500 record.
The Pick: Western Kentucky +3.5 (-115)