Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#167 Old Dominion (ODU) vs.
#168 Liberty
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 6:00pm EDT
Written by David Delano

On Saturday, the Liberty Flames, an FBS Independent, will host the Old Dominion Monarchs from Conference USA. The Flames are 2-0 after opening the season with a 48-7 win over Campbell and defeating Troy State on the road 21-13 last Saturday. Old Dominion lost its opener on the road 42-10 to Wake Forest and beat Hampton 47-7 at home last week.

ODU has played two very different games so far

Old Dominion did not participate in the 2020 season, and back in 2019 went 1-11 and 0-8 in Conference USA, with the lone win coming against FCS opponent Norfolk State. This year, the Monarchs have many new key players after returning only four offensive and three defensive starters from that 2019 team that won one game. Leading the way is the first-year head coach, Ricky Rahne, who spent the last six seasons as an assistant offensive coach at Penn State.

Old Dominion has had two drastically different games this season but is 2-0 against the spread. Old Dominion was a 33-point dog in its opening 32 point loss to Wake Forest and a 21-point favorite in last week's 40 point win over Hampton. The Monarchs were outgained 352 to 272 total yards against Wake Forest, but they outgained the Hampton Pirates 572 to 187 in total yardage.

Quarterbacks D.J Mack Jr. and Hayden Wolff have split time through the first two games. Wolff has completed 15 of 24 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown, and Mack has completed 18 of 43 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Although Mack has been the less efficient passers, he is also a threat running the ball, currently third on the team with 70 rushing yards and a team-best three rushing touchdowns. All four of Mack's touchdowns this season and 57 of his rushing yards came last week against Hampton.

Elijah Davis leads the running game with 178 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Davis picked up 69 yards on 12 carries against Wake Forest and 109 yards on eight carries against Hampton. Freshman running back Jon-Luke Peaker only carried the ball once for three yards against Wake Forest but ran over Hampton for 141 yards on 18 attempts.

If you are not already, it's time to get familiar with Malik Willis

In 2020, the Liberty Flames went 10-1 and ended the season with a 37-34 overtime win against Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl. This year the Flames returned 20 starters, 10 on both sides of the ball, and are off to a 2-0 start, also covering the spread in both wins.

Malik Willis, a dual-threat quarterback, and former Auburn Tiger, is the offense's leader and a potential first-round pick in 2022. In 2020, Willis completed 64.2% of his passes and threw for 2,260 yards, with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. Willis also rushed for 944 yards with 14 touchdowns on 6.7 yards per attempt last season. Willis has thrown for 371 yards this year with three touchdowns while also leading the team with 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

In Saturday's victory over Troy, Willis accounted for 245 of the team's 339 total yards, with two rushing and one passing touchdown. Demario Douglas led the Flames receivers with 41 yards and a touchdown on three catches. The Flames have been strong defensively throughout the first two games, ranking 14th with 250.5 yards allowed per game. Liberty held Troy to 211 yards passing and only 21 rushing yards on 24 attempts in Saturday's win.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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The name of the Wake Forest program that beat Old Dominion 42-10 is more prominent than Liberty's, but the Flames will be the best team that Old Dominion has faced so far. Old Dominion managed to cover the spread against Wake Forest, but they still lost by 32 points, and there aren't many reasons not to believe that the Flames wouldn't make this game just as miserable for the Monarchs.

Don't expect Liberty to take it easy on Old Dominion, as their program is looking to build its brand with an offense led by one of the most exciting NFL Draft prospects in the country. Old Dominion will be playing just its third game since the end of 2019 and is still highly inexperienced.

I expect Liberty to win this game by at least 28 points.

Prediction: Liberty Flames -27.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Dating back to last year with Malik Willis at quarterback Liberty is averaging 49.4 points in its previous five home games, reaching at least 40 points in each of those games. Old Dominion still has a lot of work to do after missing the entire 2020 season, and after the way they looked against Wake Forest, I expect Liberty to put up at least 42 to 49 points themselves in this game. With two games of experience under their belt and two different types of quarterbacks running the offense, I expect Old Dominion to score at least a touchdown and field goal in this game, which should be all it takes to go over the total.

Prediction: Over 53
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Written By David Marotta , "David Delano"

David Delano is a Bowling Green State University graduate with a passion for sports, traveling, and music. David loves to handicap MLB, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, NBA, WNBA, and is also a big fan of boxing and track and field. Over the years, David has worn several hats in the sports world, from being behind the camera to writing, filming, editing, scouting, and coaching, along with servicing his clients as a sports handicapper.  He is also an expert sports bettor. We are glad to have David on our Winners & Whiners team, and we recommend that you follow along with him every day.