Western Kentucky and Western Michigan will tee it up Monday afternoon in the First Responder Bowl in the first game of a full day of college football action. There are four bowl games on the slate with three starting in the afternoon before the . What more can you ask for with 2019 coming to a close?
The Hilltoppers sit at 8-4 and have won three straight contests leading into the postseason. The Broncos won three of their past four, including a 37-34 overtime win at Ohio the in penultimate week of the regular season. These two teams are looking for their first bowl victories in three years and will hope to be partying in Dallas afterward. Who will come up on top of this showdown? Let's take a closer look at the matchup and storylines to follow before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
Event: First Responder Bowl
Date: Monday, Dec. 30 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium -- Dallas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers have been successful this year with a defense that has given up just 337.8 yards per game and a Conference USA-best 20.1 points per game. They're second in the conference in red zone defense and third down defense, and have given up just 51 plays of 20 or more yards -- tops in the league. Offensively, things have been a bit of a challenge. Quarterback Ty Storey has been efficient and has completed 70.1% of his passes, but has only tossed 12 touchdowns and has hardly been a difference maker for an offense that prides itself on being smart with the football.
Western Michigan: Like Western Kentucky, the Broncos' defense has been excellent in 2019. They've given up just 363 yards per game, have 20 takeaways and have allowed touchdowns on just 56.25% of opponents' red zone possessions. It has been the epitome of a "bend but don't break" unit this season. Running back LeVante Bellamy has been an absolute stud this season with 1,412 yards and a whopping 23 touchdowns. He is the centerpiece of an offense that established the run and works off play action.
First Responder Bowl prediction, picks
The Hilltoppers' defense will force the Broncos to be one-dimensional and that will be enough to give them a win and a cover. Storey has proven throughout the year that he is one of the most patient quarterbacks in the Group of Five, and will stay smart with the football. This one will be ugly and low-scoring, and Storey will do just enough to get the job done. Pick: Western Kentucky (-3.5)
So who will win Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan, and which side of the spread can you bank on in nearly 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up nearly $4,000 on its top-rated picks, and find out.