One of the best Group Five offenses will face one of the best Group Five defenses when Western Kentucky and South Alabama face off at Wednesday’s New Orleans Bowl. The Hilltoppers seek their third nine-win season in four years under coach Tyson Helton, while the Jaguars seek to wrap up their best season in program history with a win over sophomore coach Kane Wommack.
Western Kentucky enters 8-5 (6-2 U.S. Conference) and is ranked 9th nationally on total offense and 2nd on pass offense with 339.2 yards per game. The Jaguars are 12th overall in defense, allowing just 302.8 yards per game, while South Alabama has an equally fierce defense.
South Alabama drew their league-topping Sunbelt but missed an appearance in the conference championship game after breaking the tie with Troy, who won the regular season game between the teams 10-6 on October 20. Two losses have come this season, with a total of five points, as Wommack completed a fast turn in his second season after a three-year roster at Indiana. WKU, which has a more experienced roster and roster in bowl games, is up against it, as the Hilltoppers have so far been 2-1 under Helton in the bowls.
Western Kentucky to Southern Alabama: What You Need to Know
Historic occasion: South Alabama is bowling for the third time and is vying for their first bowling victory. The Jaguars won the Camellia Bowl in 2014 but lost 33-28 to Bowling Green. They won the Arizona Bowl in 2016 but lost 45-21 to the Air Force. The Jaguars have already secured their first season of wins since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2012, and securing the program’s first bowling win would be the icing on the cake, an outstanding season.
Reed’s big news: Western Kentucky’s 2023 football roster took a big hit last week when quarterback Austin Reed announced he would be returning for another season. Reed signed from Division II West Florida for the 2022 season and lit up Helton’s rusty system with 4,249 yards and 36 goals in the regular season. Reed passed 400 yards in three games and passed 250 yards in all but one. However, this South Alabama defense may be the best they’ve faced this season.
Balanced attack: Southern Alabama will respond to WKU’s airstrike with a balanced approach. Young quarterback Carter Bradley has scored 2,966 yards and 25 goals this season after signing up with Toledo for the next four seasons. Running back Florida State transfer La’Damian Webb sprinted for 1,019 yards and scored 13 goals while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
How to watch the New Orleans Bowl live
History: Wednesday, December 21 | Time: 21:00 ET
Location: Caesars Superdome — New Orleans, Louisiana
TELEVISION: ESPN | Live broadcast: fuboTV (Try for free)
New Orleans Bowl prediction, picks
Featured Game | South Alabama Jaguars vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Western Kentucky is a well-established program with multiple bowling successes over the past decade and a 2-1 rating in bowls under the direction of fourth-grade coach Tyson Helton. South Alabama is seeking its first bowl victory to finish a season of banners for the program. Motivation should skyrocket for Jaguars with one of the best defenses at Group Five level. Second-year head coach Kane Wommack has done a remarkable job making South Alabama one of the best teams in the Sunbelt, and his team should be eager to go and ready to make a statement against Western Kentucky’s fudge offense. Forecast: South Alabama -4.5
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