Western Kentucky vs Ohio State Football Prediction & Picks: Can the High-Powered Hilltoppers Hang with the Buckeyes?

Eddie Griffin

Written by: Eddie Griffin

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Kyle McCord QB Western Kentucky Ohio State football prediction odds picks cover


In one of several big college football games next week, Ohio State will visit Notre Dame in a matchup of College Football Playoff hopefuls. But before that titanic tilt, the Buckeyes have some business to tend to this Saturday against visiting Western Kentucky (4:00 pm ET, FOX).

The 2-0 Buckeyes, who are ranked sixth in this week’s AP poll, have opened the season with wins over Indiana and Youngstown State.

The matchup with the Hilltoppers, who are 2-0 with wins over South Florida and Houston Christian, shouldn’t be too troublesome for the Buckeyes, on paper.

However, WKU’s prolific offense, led by quarterback Austin Reed, could make things interesting if they are able to move the ball against OSU’s defense, which has been stout but not severely tested thus far.

Western Kentucky vs Ohio State Odds

Odds are via Bovada as of 3:20 pm ET Wednesday, September 13, 2023.


  • Western Kentucky +29 (-110)
  • Ohio State -29 (-110)


  • Over 64 (-110)
  • Under 64 (-110)


  • Western Kentucky +1600
  • Ohio State -10000

Team Totals Over/Under

Western Kentucky

  • Over 18.5 (+105)
  • Under 18.5 (-135)

Ohio State

  • Over 45.5 (-120)
  • Under 45.5 (-110)

Will Reed Rope the Buckeyes into a Battle in Columbus?

Austin Reed Western Kentucky football

Last December, Reed briefly entered the transfer portal and reportedly flirted with Louisville.

But he elected to return to WKU for a final season, and after withdrawing from the portal, led the Hilltoppers to an impressive New Orleans Bowl win over a 10-win South Alabama team.

With UTSA departing for the American Athletic Conference after winning back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2021 and 2022, Western Kentucky entered this season as a heavy favorite to claim the conference crown ahead of new addition Liberty.

With the C-USA decimated by the departures of UTSA and several other schools to the AAC and in a transitional season with membership, the path is in place for Western Kentucky to win their first conference title since 2016.

The pieces are also in place, led by their stellar signal-caller. After throwing for 4,744 yards and 40 touchdowns last season, Reed has thrown for 589 yards and six scores in his first two games this season.

Currently, Reed is projected to be drafted anywhere from the mid-to-late rounds or not at all. Can he impress NFL scouts this week and next week at Troy?

Against Indiana and Youngstown State, Ohio State’s defense allowed just one touchdown, one field goal, and 387 total yards.

But they haven’t been tested like they will be by Western Kentucky’s offense. Since the start of the 2021 season, the Hilltoppers have scored 40+ points 17 times in 30 games.

Of course, Ohio State is a major step up from their usual competition. But I think that WKU can find the end zone at least a couple of times, and this one could be interesting for at least the first half if they are able to move the ball.

Western Kentucky vs Power 5 Opponents in the Tyson Helton Era

  • 2019: lost 38-21 to Louisville and won 45-19 at Arkansas
  • 2020: lost 35-21 at Louisville
  • 2021: lost 33-31 to Indiana and 48-31 at Michigan State
  • 2022: lost 33-30 at Indiana (OT) and 41-17 at Auburn

Since making the move from the FCS to the FBS, Western Kentucky has played 31 games against Power 5 schools. In those 31 games, they have lost by 29 or more points just nine times, including just once in the last 17 such matchups.

A more challenging contest could pay some dividends for the Buckeyes and QB Kyle McCord.

Through two games, McCord has completed 64.2% (34 of 53) of his passes for 497 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. Those aren’t spectacular numbers, but he has shown enough to now be the official, unquestioned starter.

With Notre Dame up next, it can only help McCord to be in a position where he has to do more to actively influence the outcome of the game, because that is the position that he may find himself in next week.

It will also be a chance for OSU’s ground game to break out after doing relatively little over the first two games.

In their season-opening 41-24 win over South Florida, Western Kentucky allowed 374 rushing yards on 61 attempts, and they allowed 4.4 yards per carry in last week’s win over FCS member Houston Christian.

The ground game will need to be a factor against the Fighting Irish, so it will be important for the Buckeyes’ backfield trio of TreVeyon Henderson, Chip Trayanum, and Myan Williams to exploit that weak spot in WKU’s defense this week.

Western Kentucky vs Ohio State Prediction and Picks

Prediction: Ohio State to win

Picks: Western Kentucky +29 (-110 at Bovada)

I don’t see an upset or even a scare happening in this matchup, but I think that the Hilltoppers can be competitive enough to cover the spread and hit the over on their team total.

Where to Bet on Western Kentucky vs Ohio State

Most top online sportsbooks offer a wide variety of college football odds throughout the season.

In addition to being able to make weekly college football picks all the way from Week Zero to the College Football Playoff National Championship, you can also bet on Heisman Trophy odds, conference championship odds, win totals, and much more.

Along with Bovada, where the Western Kentucky vs Ohio State odds in this article are from, there are plenty of sports betting sites you can choose from that are good for college football betting.

Below are some of the other books that we highly recommend:

If you don’t have an account at a book on this list, check out our reviews to help you determine if it is worth your interest and your betting funds.

Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin

Eddie Griffin has been writing about and betting on sports for over a decade and has been with Betting News since 2021. For more of his thoughts on sports and sports betting, you can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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