Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (0-0) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (0-0)
September 4, 2021 12:00 pm EDT
The Line: Kentucky Wildcats -29.5 / Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks +29.5; Over/Under: 52.5
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Kentucky Wildcats meet the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in week 1 college football action from Kroger Field on Saturday.
The Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks enter the 2021 season looking to forget all about 2020, finishing at 0-10 including an 0-7 mark in Sun Belt conference play, leading the Warhawks to bringing in Terry Bowden as the team’s new head coach. The Warhawks have options at QB, led by Colby Suits who is the returning starter from last year’s squad but Jeremy Hunt is waiting in the wings as is Rhett Rodriguez, son of offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, who many consider to be the right fit to start after transferring from Arizona. Josh Johnson is gone from the program, but Kadyn Roach steps in after finishing second for ULM in rushing last season, but he had just 112 rushing yards all year. The good news for whoever is under center is that the top five wide receivers all return as do four of five starters from the offensive line last season. Defensively, the secondary needs the most help as five different DBs from last year’s Warhawks team entered the transfer portal, but Adam Sparks transfers in from Missouri to slide in alongside Josh Newton and second-leading tackler from last season Austin Hawley is back at safety as is Jabari Johnson and Tyler Glass who combined for 110 tackles last season. Seth Mason and Ty Shelby will anchor a defensive line that needs to find some leadership, while the linebacking corps gets some major help with the return of Traveion Webster and incoming transfers like Jacquez Williams from Wake Forest via the portal. As a team, Louisiana-Monroe averaged 16.3 PPG while allowing 42 PPG last season.
The Kentucky Wildcats come into the 2021 season looking to improve on a 5-6 mark in 2020 including a 4-6 mark in SEC conference play. The Wildcats’ offense is going to be a work in progress as starting QB Terry Wilson transferred to New Mexico, leaving the reins of the offense to either Joey Gatewood, Beau Allen or Penn State transfer Will Levis. The good news is that whoever starts at pivot, they’ll have a litany of options including leading receiver Josh Ali, who had 54 catches for 473 yards last season as well as Keaton Upshaw who was 2nd on the team in receptions and had a team-high three TD grabs. Chris Rodriguez is back in the Wildcats’ backfield after recording a team-high 765 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while Kavosley Smoke will be right alongside Rodriguez to add depth to the Wildcats’ backfield. The defense needs to fill holes after losing a bunch of pieces from last year, including Jamin Davis and Boogie Watson up front. DeAndre Square had 60 tackles last season while Jordan Wright made 45 and Jacquez Jones transfers within the SEC from Ole Miss to help the cause as well. Marquan McCall and Josh Paschal will be tasked with leading the pass rush on the defensive line whileYusuf Corker will be tasked with leading the Wildcats’ secondary while Tyrell Aljan and Cedrick Dort will be there to assist as well. As a team, Kentucky averaged 21.8 PPG while allowing 25.9 PPG last season.
Louisiana-Monroe is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games in the month of September and 5-14 ATS in their last 19 Saturday games while the under is 5-2 in their last 7 week 1 matchups. Kentucky is 10-2 ATS in their last 12 home games and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 home games played on Saturday while the over is 5-0 in their last 5 games against the Sun Belt.
There’s a bit of a running joke with ULM, and that’s that ULM stands for U Lose Money because this team burns a hole in your pocket if you back them. That’s true here as well. Now I’m not the biggest Kentucky fan, but there’s pieces coming back for this team and like it or not, the Wildcats are simply the far better team here. There’s no way around it in my opinion. I have to lay the points with the Wildcats in this one.