Western Kentucky and Old Dominion will both be looking to snap four-game losing streaks when they square off on Saturday afternoon. The Hilltoppers opened the season with a win over UT Martin, but they have gone winless since then. Old Dominion has dropped its last four games since splitting its first two games of the year.
Zappe leads explosive offenseWestern Kentucky got off to a strong start this season with its 59-21 win over UT Martin, but it has been a frustrating month of football since then. The Hilltoppers have played a tough schedule, facing Army, Indiana, No. 17 Michigan State and UTSA. They lost to the Black Knights and Hoosiers by a combined five points before losing at Michigan State by 17 points. Western Kentucky found itself in a shootout against UTSA last week, coming up short in a 52-46 final against the undefeated Roadrunners. The Hilltoppers had a 31-28 lead early in the third quarter, but they never led again.
Offense has not been an issue for Western Kentucky, as the team ranks fifth in the country in yards per game (550.4). Quarterback Bailey Zappe has completed 70.4% of his passes for 2,235 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has outstanding numbers, throwing just three interceptions in 243 attempts. Wide receiver Jerreth Sterns has been his top target, hauling in 56 receptions for 741 yards and seven touchdowns. Mitchell Tinsley has caught 26 passes for 448 yards and three scores. The Hilltoppers do not run the ball much, but they are averaging 3.9 yards per carry as a team. They are going to face an Old Dominion defense that is No. 38, allowing 330.5 yards per game.
Monarchs reliant upon their defenseOld Dominion comes into this game on a four-game losing streak since picking up its lone win over Hampton on Sept. 11. The Monarchs were blown out at Liberty in their third game, but they have been competitive in the three losses since then. They lost to Buffalo by one point, UTEP by seven points and then lost at Marshall in overtime last week. Old Dominion took a 13-6 lead with 2:37 remaining in the game, but the Thundering Herd tied the game with 0:33 remaining. A 22-yard touchdown pass from Grant Wells gave them the win in overtime.
The Monarchs have struggled offensively, ranked No. 107 in the country (344.7 ypg). Quarterback D.J. Mack Jr. has completed just 51.5% of his passes for 859 yards. He has thrown five touchdowns and seven interceptions, getting sacked 19 times in the process. With quarterback issues holding back the passing game, the Monarchs have turned to their rushing attack. Running back Blake Watson has carried the ball 67 times for 339 yards, while Elijah Davis has added 50 attempts for 278 yards. They are going to face a Western Kentucky defense that has been awful, ranked No. 123 in yards allowed per game (480.4).
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This is the type of team Western Kentucky has been wanting to face during the last month. Old Dominion has been really bad offensively, especially in the passing game. Western Kentucky is one of the best offenses in the nation, so it is going to be difficult for the Monarchs to keep pace. Zappe is on pace to have a fantastic season for Western Kentucky and his lack of turnovers is a key factor when handicapping this game. The Hilltoppers will only need a few stops from their defense to cover this spread.
Full-Game Total Pick
I am not going to lay the spread with Western Kentucky and take the under, as it would be conflicting in most scenarios. The Hilltoppers should be scoring on almost every possession in this game. Their issues have not been on the offensive side of the ball over the last month of losses. Old Dominion is going to have its chances to put points up on Saturday. While the Monarchs won’t score enough to cover the spread, they are going to contribute enough points to get this over the total. Western Kentucky has gone over the total in each of its last five games.