In early September, the Ohio State Buckeyes looking to get back to the College Football Playoffs, will host Conference USA’s Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for an early-season non-conference matchup. Are you ready for the upcoming match between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers? Get in on the action and amp up the excitement with BetMGM Ohio. It’s your chance to join the thrill of the game and have a shot at winning big!
The Hilltoppers are coming off a 9-5 season, the program’s third nine-win season under head coach Tyson Helton in four seasons. Only in the COVID 2020 season did the Hilltoppers fail to get to .500 under Helton. Last season, the Hilltoppers had both an elite offense and great defense, with 36.4 points scored per game, 15th best in the country, while allowing just 23.4 points per contest which ranked 23.4 in the country last season.
Last year, the Hilltoppers played a pair of Power Five football programs in Indiana and Auburn, losing both games though they did play Indiana quite well, losing 33-30. Their late-season matchup against Auburn was very much a different story, losing 41-17 on The Plains. Quarterback Austin Reed had an incredible first year with the Hilltoppers, throwing for 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns but did throw 11 interceptions. It will be exciting to see how the Saint Augustine Beach, Florida native follows up that season.
Ohio State, on the other hand, went 11-2 last season, losing to the Georgia Bulldogs 42-41 in the Peach Bowl. The Bulldogs would go on to win the national championship a few weeks later in a dominating 65-7 win over TCU. The Buckeyes have not missed a beat under head coach Ryan Day who is 45-6 in his four years as the head coach. He also was the head coach for three games in 2018.
This fall, however, the Buckeyes will have a new signal caller as star quarterback C.J. Stroud is gone to the NFL after being drafted by the Houston Texans with the second overall pick in this April’s NFL Draft. Former five-star quarterback prospect Kyle McCord will likely take over as the Buckeyes starting quarterback.McCord has played sparingly over the last two seasons, completing 41-of-58 passing attempts for 606 yards and three touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. The Buckeyes also said goodbye this offseason to wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba luckily for McCord, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr, the country’s top player at the position, is returning, as is the running back trio of TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, and Dallan Hayden.
The Buckeyes offense shouldn’t take much of a step back this fall if at any. After averaging 44.2 points per game last season, the second-highest average in the nation, expect the Buckeyes to once again be amongst the nation’s leaders. The performance of its defense will ultimately separate Ohio State from the rest. While their defense was improved in 2022, the Buckeyes’ weakness in the last few years has undoubtedly been on that side of the ball. The defense holds its own against most but does struggle at stopping the better offenses on their schedule.
All in all, this is a game that Ohio State should cruise to a victory in. The Buckeyes are a national championship contender in 2023. While the Hilltoppers have found some strong consistency over the last few seasons under head coach Tyson Helton, the talent differential will be too much for the Hilltoppers to knock off the Buckeyes. Ohio State, in reality, should run circles around Western Kentucky both figuratively and literally.
Look for the Buckeyes to get their starters out of the game by halftime or early in the third quarter and get their backups plenty of reps. When lines come out for this one, expect Ohio State to be at least around a 45-point favorite to win the game.