Ball State vs. Kentucky Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 1

Jul 19, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops talks with members of the media during SEC Media Day at the Grand Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 19, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops talks with members of the media during SEC Media Day at the Grand Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kentucky Wildcats football season is upon us.

After landing one of the best quarterbacks in the transfer portal in former North Carolina State signal caller Devin Leary, the Wildcats hope to take a leap on the offensive side of the ball and compete in a crowded SEC.

The team struggled on offense last season, but brought back offensive coordinator Liam Coen to help Leary unlock an offense that struggled in 2022. Can Kentucky get off to a good start against Ball State?

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Ball State vs. Kentucky Odds, Spread and Total

Kentucky vs. Ball State Betting Trends

  • Kentucky went UNDER in 11 of 12 games last season
  • Kentucky covered in eight of 12 games last season
  • Ball State went UNDER in nine of 12 games last season

Ball State vs. Kentucky How to Watch

  • Date: Friday, Sept. 2
  • Game Time: 12:00 PM EST
  • Venue: Kroger Field
  • How to Watch (TV): SEC Network
  • Ball State record: 0-0
  • Kentucky Record: 0-0

Ball State vs. Kentucky Key Players to Watch

Ball State

Layne Hatcher: Hatcher transfers in from Texas State in hopes of jump starting the Cardinals offense that struggled mightly in 2022. He completed 62% of his passes last season for 2,653 yards with 19 touchdowns but also had 10 interceptions.


Devin Leary: Leary was a massive get for coach Mark Stoops in hopes of raising this offense up. While his season was cut short due to a shoulder injury, Leary has been a high-end QB over the last two seasons. He combined to complete 64% of his passes over the last two years with 46 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 18 games.

Ball State vs. Kentucky prediction and pick

As part of my Week 1 betting column on BetSided, I broke down this game as one of my favorite totals to bet on the opening weekend, here’s what I had to say.

Kentucky had a futile offense last season, the team scored more than 31 points just once despite playing three Group of Five or below schools, but this should be a revived offense under returning offensive coordinator Liam Coen and transfer quarterback Leary.

Coen was the OC in Lexington in 2021, a far better season for the Wildcats. The team was far more successful then, but also played at a faster tempo, averaging about three plays per game, 85th overall, outpacing the 2022 version that was stuck in the mud, 116th in plays per game at about 65 snaps per game.

In 2021, Kentucky checked in as an above average offense, 11th in success rate and 47th in EPA/Play. The reason for Will Levis hype as an NFL Draft prospect is from this version of the Wildcats, not the 2022 version that was 105th in EPA/Play.

The team gets an opening week matchup against an outmatched Ball State team. I expect Kentucky is going to want to set the tone for a revived offensive attack with some points and a downfield attack against a Cardinals defense that won’t have an answer.

The Wildcats are laying 26.5 points, I envision the team will find the end zone at least five times and get into the high 30’s, if not 40’s.

Ball State passed the ball at a top 15 rate last season and now integrates in transfer quarterback Layne Hatcher. I don’t expect much of a fight from the Cardinals, but if Kentucky is going to do most of the heavy lifting, I may need only one score to get over this total.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed’s bets here!