When the Old Dominion Monarchs took on the Rice Owls in Houston on Saturday afternoon, they entered as a touchdown underdog.
I'm not sure how they'll open against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders before Friday night's nationally televised showdown. But here they are, a year into their FBS and Conference USA tenure, sitting at 1-0 following a victory over Rice with a chance to make it 2-0 in conference with a win against MT.
Here's the problem with both teams: their defenses aren't good.
ODU has given up 28 or more points three times (28 to FCS Hampton, 46 to North Carolina State and 42 to Rice) thus far. Combined, that's an average of 38.6 points in those three games, which would rank in the bottom 15. That drops to 29.75 with the three points allowed to Eastern Michigan thrown in, still a fairly high number and putting them in a three-way tie for 33rd with Colorado and Louisiana Tech for most points allowed.
Now let's turn the tables and look at Middle Tennessee. They allowed seven to Savannah State (poor Savannah State), but in their next three--Minnesota, Western Kentucky and Memphis—they allowed 35, 47 and 36, respectively. Those three games averaged out equals 39.3 which, on their own, would slot the Blue Raiders in the bottom 10 among FBS teams. With the Savannah State game tossed in, they move to 102nd with 31.3 points allowed.
When it comes down to it, it looks like this one will simply come down to which offense performs better and who can make the most plays. Because, from what the numbers tell us, it doesn't appear as either team will be particularly interested in playing defense on Friday.
By the way, take the over.