The Toughest Stretch of Western Kentucky’s 2023 Football Schedule

The Toughest Stretch of Western Kentucky’s 2023 Football Schedule
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

It’s an exciting time to be a Hilltopper fan.

Western Kentucky is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons and three in the past four. Something bettors will be paying close attention to when Kentucky sportsbooks are live. Coach Tyson Helton also has a high-flying offense that averaged 36.4 points per game last season, the 15th-best in the Football Bowl Subdivision. To top it off, redshirt senior quarterback Austin Reed returns after passing for 4,746 yards and 40 touchdowns last season. So, too, does receiver Malachi Corey, who is picking up All-America consideration this season after catching 101 passes for 1,295 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore last year.

The hopes are that WKU can win what will be an overhauled Conference USA this season. Both UTSA and North Texas, the two teams that finished ahead of the Toppers last season, are now in the American, as are UAB, Florida Atlantic, and Rice.

Replacing them is a Liberty team also expected to compete for the conference crown and Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State, a pair of schools that have had success recently in the Football Championship Subdivision and are jumping to FBS.

With that said, we wondered what stretch of WKU’s schedule would be the toughest.

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Toughest Stretch of WKU’s Schedule Is… created a point system to determine the toughest 3-game stretch of the Hilltoppers’ 2023 schedule for the upcoming college football season. We awarded 4 points to each opponent that won at least 7 games last season, 3 points to each opponent that won at least 6 games, 3 points for an away game, and 2 points for a conference opponent.

at Ohio StateWeek 37
at TroyWeek 47
vs. Middle Tennessee Week 56

Our analysis also found three stretches during conference play equaling 20 points. However, we’re giving the tiebreaker to the early stretch that includes the Toppers’ two toughest non-conference games.

Everyone knows about The Ohio State University, which took Georgia down to the wire last season in the Peach Bowl, a College Football Playoff semifinal. Troy, meanwhile, went 12-2 last year and ended the season with 11 straight wins. If both the Toppers and Trojans have seasons as the experts predict, then that Sept. 23 contest could give the winner a leg up on a possible New Year’s Six bowl bid.

After those games, WKU will then open CUSA play with a Thursday night home against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 28. The two schools share a rivalry called “100 Miles of Hate,” and WKU has claimed seven of the last eight contests, including a 35-17 win in Bowling Green last October.

Kentucky sportsbook apps are expected to be up and running or at least very close to it around this football season. Check back with us as will have the latest updates for you.

What Oddsmakers Say About Western Kentucky

BetMGM has the Hilltoppers as the favorites to win CUSA this season at +135, meaning a $100 winning bet would return a profit of $135. Oddsmakers there have set their total regular season wins at 8.5, with over odds at +115 and the under at -135, meaning a $135 winning bet would net a profit of $100. 

There are no odds currently on WKU winning a national title at BetMGM, but feel free to check with Kentucky BetMGM sportsbook if they beat Ohio State and Troy.

The Hilltoppers open their season at home on Sept. 2 when they host South Florida. It’s possible that sports betting operators may be able to start taking wagers in Kentucky during the college football season. Lawmakers passed House Bill 551 in late March, and Gov. Andy Beshear has said he wants to see sports betting available in some form by the start of the NFL season.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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