College football action on Saturday afternoon and a pair of teams from Conference U.S.A. will square off as the Charlotte 49ers grapple with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Charlotte won this game at home last year by a score of 40-14.
The 49ers are off a 48-23 loss at FIU to fall to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in league play. the Hilltoppers check in off a 17-8 home win over Army to give them a 4-2 mark on the year overall. WKU is 3-0 in league play so far.
49ers Look To Break Three-Game SlideThe Charlotte 49ers began their season at 2-1 but we note that their two wins were against an FCS team and UMass, while their loss was against Appalachian State on the road. Since then, the 49ers have lost three straight games and have been outscored by 28.3 ppg in the three losses. The offense averaged 47.3 ppg through their first three games, but they have averaged just 20 ppg over their last three games. That does not bode well here as they are taking on a red-hot defensive team in the Hilltoppers. Chris Reynolds threw for just 114 yards with a TD and no INTs in last week's loss to FIU. He has know thrown for 962 yards with 11 TDs and five INTs on the year. Ther Jaguars are just 107th in the nation in passing, but 25th in rushing. Benny LeMay has a big game against FIU with 144 yards and a TD, but it wasn't nearly enough. He leads the team with 622 yards on the ground. LeMay could have a tough time against a WKU defense that is 28th against the pass.
The 49ers have some problems on offense but their issues on defense seem to be far worse. Charlotte allowed 28 points to an FCS team and just 17 points to UMass but in their other four games, thay have allowed 50.3 ppg. The 49ers have allowed 52 ppg and 478 ypg on the road so far and 511.7 ppg and 48.3 ppg in their last three games overall. This is a bad defensive team that ranks 125th in the nation against the run and 128th in points allowed, giving up 41 ppg overall. In last week's loss, they allowed FIU to put up 510 yards of total offense, including 350 yards on the ground. The good news here is that WHU is 110th in rushing and they have averaged just 19 ppg over their last three games. The defense has a shot at a good showing in this one.
Hilltoppers have been stout On DefenseThe Western Kentucky Hilltoppers started their season a bit slow as they went 1-2 through their first three games and they allowed 29 ppg in those three games. After that, the defense woke from its slumber as the Hilltoppers have allowed just 8.0 ppg in going 3-0 over their last three games. The defense has taken over for this team and as a result, they are winning games. WKU is now 4-2 overall and a perfect 3-0 within Conference U.S.A. Last week the Hilltoppers took on Army and won the game by a score of 17-8. WKU held army to just 208 yards of total offense, including just 137 yards on the ground. That is huge as Army is always in the top 10 in the nation in rushing. This defense is playing at another level right now and will look to keep it going against a Charlotte offense that has had its issues of late. The 49ers are 25th in rushing, so WKU's 28th ranked run defense will be tested. The pass defense is 17th in the land and it will not be tested against the 107th ranked passing attack of Charlotte.
The Hilltoppers have needed their defense to step up as the offense has been nothing special so far. Western Kentucky scored 28 points in their lone game against an FCS foe, but they have not scored more than 21 points in their five games against FBS competition. WKU has averaged just 19.6 ppg in their five FBS games thus far. That could change here as they are up against a defense that has been giving points away at wholesale. The Hilltoppers are 112th in total offense, 80th in passing, 110th in rushing, and 111th in scoring putting up just 21 ppg. WKU will look to get their ground game going first as they are taking on the 125th ranked run defense. Once they establish the run, then Ty Storey should be able to hit some big plays down the field. He has taken over for Steven Duncan, who was lost for the season. Storey threw for 140 yards against Army and now has 522 yards passing with three TDs and just one INT on the year. He did run for 62 yards and two TDs in the game. Charlotte is 20th against the pass, so the ground game will be needed to loosen up that defense.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 conference games.
- 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
Western Kentucky is:
- 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game
- 21-10 ATS in their last 31 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game