The Alex Golesh Era begins today at South Florida on the road at Western Kentucky

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South Florida Bulls (0-0) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (0-0) 

Written By Admir Aljic , “The Admiral”

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Week 1 of the 2023 college football season is upon us, so we are taking a closer look at the interconference showdown from Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to get you the best South Florida vs. Western Kentucky betting pick and odds. 

South Florida @ Western Kentucky3:30 PM CBSSN Alex Del Barrio, Malik Zaire – click here to watch

Western Kentucky opens as an 11.5-point home fave with a total of 69.5 points. The Hilltoppers meet the Bulls for the first time since 2010 when USF beat Western Kentucky 24-12 as a huge 28-point home fave.  

The Bulls hope to improve in 2023

The South Florida Bulls went 1-11 straight up in what was a horrible 2022 campaign. They beat the Howard Bison 42-20 in Week 2 before dropping ten games in a row. The Bulls’ defense was pretty much awful last regular season, surrendering a staggering 41.2 points per game (130th in the nation) on 282.0 passing yards (124th) and 234.6 rushing yards (129th). 

On the other side of the ball, the Bulls were tallying 28.0 points per game (68th) on 192.9 passing yards (108th) and 197.8 rushing yards (27th). They lost junior RB Brian Battie in the transfer portal, and Battie was leading the way for USF last year, notching 175 carries for 1,185 yards and eight touchdowns.  

Alex Golesh is USF’s new head coach. The former offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee said that the Bulls’ starting quarterback has been chosen but won’t be announced until Saturday. Senior signal-caller Gerry Bohanon began 2022 as the starter until he suffered a season-ending injury mid-way through October. Bohanon is now battling redshirt sophomore Byrum Brown, who delivered a couple of strong displays in the final two weeks of the 2022 season. 

The Hilltoppers are looking for another successful season

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers went 9-5 this past season while beating the South Alabama Jaguars 44-23 in the New Orleans Bowl. Head coach Tyson Helton led Western Kentucky to the bowl season in each of his previous four years at the helm, and the Hilltoppers are hoping for another successful campaign. 

Last year, Western Kentucky was scoring 36.4 points per game (15th in the country) on 352.2 passing yards (2nd) and 145.1 rushing yards (70th). On the other side of the ball, the Hilltoppers were yielding 23.4 points per contest (44th) on 236.1 passing yards (85th) and 147.6 rushing yards (61st). 

Senior QB Austin Reed will start under center Saturday against USF. He completed 64.5% of his passing attempts last season, throwing for 4,746 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions across 14 games. Reed will have his favorite target around in 2023, so keep your eyes on junior wideout Malachi Corley, who posted 101 catches for 1,295 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022. Junior RB Davion Ervin-Poindexter will continue to lead the Hilltoppers’ backfield after racking up 525 yards and three touchdowns on 116 carries last season

Tyson Helton’s Hilltoppers are well-known for their dynamic offense that is not a true air raid but certainly leans heavily on Austin Reed’s arm. I don’t think the Bulls will have enough weapons to deal with Western Kentucky’s passing offense, so I’m laying the points with the Hilltoppers in Week 1. 

The Bulls will need some time to gel things under Alex Golesh. Their defense was a disaster last year, and I’m not going to back USF until I see some signs of improvement. This is a tough opener for the Bulls, who have gone 4-5 ATS over their previous nine games overall. On the other side, the Hilltoppers are 5-3 ATS in their last eight games overall and 6-3 ATS in their previous nine showings in front of the home fans. Western Kentucky is 6-0 ATS in its last six contests played in September. 

Prediction: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -11.5 (-110)

Written By Admir Aljic , “The Admiral”

You want someone to show you how to make some money, then talk to the Admiral, because he is your man. He has been handicapping for many years, so heal knows a thing or two on how to beat the spread and get your pockets loaded with cash. He has lined his own pockets for years as a betting expert. The Admiral has brought his talents to StatSalt & Winners & Whiners and will always find the best pick for you.