Who is Bailey Zappe? Meet the Western Kentucky QB who can smash two NCAA passing records

When Bailey Zappe is the caller, who needs a balanced offense? Certainly not in western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers are 8-5 with a matchup against Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl looming Saturday (11 am ET. That’s a good record. Most coaches would probably sign up every year if they could.

But the WKU offense, particularly through the air, is much more than good. He’s way above that, in fact, in large part thanks to Zappe and wide receiver Jerreth Sterns, who is second nationally in receiving yards and third in touchdowns.

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But Zappe has emerged as one of the best passers in college football despite playing at a Group 5 school and spending time at the FCS before this year. Western Kentucky ranks second nationally in scoring (43.1 points per game) and total offense (527.5 yards per game) and first in passing offense (434.6 yards per game). He’s 125th in rushing offense (92.8 yards per game).

There is that lack of balance. But it doesn’t seem to matter.

And when Zappe takes the field against App State, he will be looking to make NCAA history in two categories and continue his meteoric rise as a passer.

Sporting News has all the information you need on Bailey Zappe and the records that could fall before the clock strikes 0:00 in South Florida.

What FBS records can Bailey Zappe break?

Zappe will be on the lookout for two one-season records: more passing yards and more touchdowns.

The odds of him setting the yard mark seem to be pretty good. With 5,545 yards already this season, he needs 289 more to break former Texas Tech QB BJ Symons’ 18-year record of 5,833. Zappe is averaging over 426 yards per game.

His chances of breaking the touchdown record look good too. At 56 this year, he needs four more to tie former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow at 60 and five to pass it. Zappe is averaging four touchdowns per game in his last six games.

But Appalachian State has given up just 12 passing touchdowns all year, to go with just 206.6 passing yards per game and 6.8 yards per completion, so Zappe could have a lot of work ahead of him.

Where did Bailey Zappe come from?

Zappe is in his first year with the Hilltoppers playing for Tyson Helton. He transferred from FCS Houston Baptist, where he was also a prolific passer.

In his three years of handing out the Southland Conference (2018-20), Zappe threw for 8,466 yards and 73 touchdowns while completing 61.9 percent of his passes. That was under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Zac Kittley, who followed Zappe to Western Kentucky but left the program before the bowling game to take the same job at Texas Tech.

Zappe also posted impressive numbers at his Texas high school, but Houston Baptist was the only school to offer him a scholarship. He was Southland’s offensive co-player of the year last year.

He has had no problem making the jump to the FBS. He has passed for more than 300 yards in 12 of 13 games and more than 400 yards seven times. He has never had a game this season with fewer than three touchdowns.

What are Bailey Zappe’s NFL Draft actions?

Unlike some projected first-round picks, Zappe won’t give up his bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. He ranks first nationally in passing yards and touchdowns and ninth in completion percentage.

But even with those impressive numbers, various outlets see him as a Day 3 pick, with ESPN comparing it the current head of the Washington soccer team, Taylor Heinicke.

He’s second nationally in completions and first in passing attempts, so he’s clearly gotten enough reps and has shown he has a great arm and can deliver accurate throws. Now, it may just be a question of how Zappe fares on the big stage and if he wins some believers. This game will be one of the first on national television.