It’s a matchup of struggling teams from the East Division of Conference USA down in the Bluegrass State in week 8 action on the college football gridiron. The Old Dominion Monarchs are on the road as they make the trip to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Saturday night. Old Dominion dropped their third straight game as they were dumped 42-20 at home by Marshall last Saturday. Western Kentucky suffered their second straight defeat as they were thrashed 40-14 on the road by Charlotte last Saturday. The Hilltoppers have won all four meetings between the teams, including a 35-31 road win in the last matchup on October 20, 2017.
Old Dominion Monarchs Try for First Conference Win
Old Dominion battled again but has been unable to come up with a win since their upset triumph over Virginia Tech last month. The Monarchs have their best chance for their first conference win of the season here: their next best chance is the season finale against Rice. Old Dominion trailed 21-3 early in the third quarter but twice closed to within eight points in the game. The Monarchs could draw no closer and Marshall put the game away late. Old Dominion was outgained 501-402 in the game while getting edged 30:36 to 29:24 in time of possession. The Monarchs had a 25-24 edge in first downs but turned the ball over twice while forcing one takeaway. Old Dominion was shredded on the ground by Marshall as they allowed 319 yards and five scores on the ground while giving up 7.1 yards per carry.
— ODU Football (@ODUFootball) October 14, 2018
The Monarchs enter this contest 19th in the FBS in passing offense with an average of 303 yards per game through the air and 122nd in rushing with 103.9 yards per contest. Old Dominion is 81st in scoring offense as they average 27.4 points per contest and 121st in scoring defense by allowing 39.1 points per game. Steven Williams is 41 of 81 passing for 507 yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions while adding 84 yards plus a score on the ground. Blake LaRussa is 133 of 209 for 1,614 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Jeremy Cox leads the team with 80 carries for 323 yards plus three touchdowns while Kesean Strong adds 48 carries for 189 yards plus five scores. Jonathan Duhart has a team-leading 47 receptions for 737 yards plus six scores: he is fourth in the nation in receiving yards. Travis Fulgham (30 receptions, 489 yards, four TD) and Isaiah Harper (33 catches, 257 yards, TD) are also targets in the passing game. Nick Rice is 19 of 20 on extra points and seven of 11 on field goals with a long of 48 this season.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Try to Pick Up First Home Win of Season
Western Kentucky proved to be no match on the road for Charlotte as they turned in a disappointing performance. The Hilltoppers have three losses by three points this season and two blowout defeats. Western Kentucky looks to try to pick up their first home win of the season here but they have some injuries to deal with. Drew Eckels has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury while D’Andre Ferby is recovering from shoulder surgery. Eckels is questionable here as the Hilltoppers have played musical quarterback all season long. Ferby is out a minimum of a month as he recovers. Western Kentucky led Charlotte 7-6 after one quarter and was within 9-7 at the half before giving up 21 third quarter points to put things out of reach. All told, the Hilltoppers gave up 34 consecutive points: they were crunched 448-256 in total offense, 28-17 in first downs and 38:41 to 21:19 in time of possession. Western Kentucky committed three turnovers while forcing just one.
— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) October 15, 2018
The Hilltoppers are 48th in the FBS in passing offense by averaging 252.8 yards per game through the air. Western Kentucky is just 121st in the nation in rushing by putting up 105.2 yards per contest on the ground. The Hilltoppers are 126th in the FBS as they average 17.8 points per contest and stand 77th in the nation by allowing 27.5 points per game. Drew Eckels has completed 38 of 67 passes for 514 yards with three touchdown passes. Davis Shanley is 57 of 84 for 566 yards plus a score against two interceptions while adding 48 yards and a score on the ground. Steven Duncan is 46 of 70 for 437 yards with four touchdowns against two picks while adding 71 rushing yards and a score. Joshua Samuel is the team’s leading rusher with 47 carries for 233 yards plus a score. D’Andre Ferby (22 carries, 102 yards) and Garland LaFrance (16 attempts, 78 yards) are next in line for Western Kentucky. Lucky Jackson is the top receiver for the Hilltoppers with 29 catches for 345 yards plus two scores. Quin Jernighan (23 receptions, 226 yards), Kyle Fourtenbary (21 grabs, 179 yards, TD) and Mik’Quan Deane (17 catches, 190 yards, three TD) are also solid targets. Ryan Nuss has booted all 14 extra point attempts but is only three of six on field goals with a long of 35 this season.
- Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf
- Monarchs are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a double-digit loss at home
- Monarchs are 1-7 ATS vs. a team with a losing record
- Monarchs are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 conference games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
You can expect a lot of passes to be thrown in this game as the run games for both teams is pretty much nonexistent. That tends to slant toward the Hilltoppers as they are prolific enough, even with three different quarterbacks to move the sticks through the air. Old Dominion has struggled against the pass, ranking 117th in the nation by allowing 281.6 yards per game. Western Kentucky’s defense is 62nd against the pass by allowing 222.8 yards per game through the air. The Hilltoppers’ better numbers against the pass is what makes the difference in this one. Western Kentucky finds a way to steal a win to get in the win column in conference play.
Prediction: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams have had their ups and downs this season, mainly downs, but there have been some flashes of excitement. Duhart is fourth in the nation in receiving yards and LaRussa supplanted Williams at QB. The Monarchs have been good at moving the ball through the air since LaRussa took over the offense. Old Dominion has to get healthy though as Cox missed the game against Marshall and they need to be able to move the ball on the ground. Western Kentucky hopes to get Eckels back so they can stop shuffling quarterbacks around. Which team comes up with their first conference win of the year here?
The over is 5-0 in the Monarchs’ last five games overall, 4-0 in their last four in October, 4-0 in their last four after a straight up loss, 6-0 in their last six after throwing for at least 280 yards and 5-0 in their last five after a straight up loss by at least 20 points. Western Kentucky has seen the over go 4-0 in their last four in October, 5-1 in their last six at home and 13-3 in their last 16 against teams with a losing road record. The teams have gone over the total in each of their four meetings. Given the way that both teams can move the ball through the air and struggle defensively, this one should end up over the number.
Prediction: Over 56
Half-Time Side Pick
We’ve seen Old Dominion really blossom offensively since LaRussa took over the starting QB job from Williams earlier this season. The problem for the Monarchs is that you can’t rely on their defense, which is why their lone win is the upset triumph over Virginia Tech. Western Kentucky has hung tough in games despite having to play multiple quarterbacks. The team says Eckels is back, which is a boost for them. The Hilltoppers should be able to ride the advantage at QB to the edge at the half.
Prediction: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -3 (-110)
Half-Time Total Bet
This one should be entertaining as Old Dominion looks to move the ball through the air. Western Kentucky gets their senior QB back in this one, which is highly beneficial for an offense that has struggled to move the ball thanks to having multiple quarterbacks. LaRussa to Duhart has been a prolific combination this season as he leads the conference in receiving yards per game. With both teams having their signal callers ready to go here, this one goes over the total at the half.
Prediction: Over 28 -110