Old Dominion Monarchs (1-3, 0-0 C-USA) vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-2, 2-0 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 5th, 6:00 PM
Location: S.B Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA
Betting Line: WKU -3.0 O/U 43
All-Time Series Record: WKU leads the all-time series 4-1. ODU won last year’s matchup 37-34 in an absolute thriller.
The Monarchs come in with a 1-3 but the record in this case isn’t indicative of their effort this season. After a last-minute win over cross-town rival Norfolk State to open the new Kornblau Field at S.B Ballard Stadium, the Monarchs went to Virginia Tech and UVA, almost beating the Cavaliers, leading 17-0 at the half.
Stone Smartt’s play has been good, he is the Monarchs leading rusher, and he has been getting better throwing the ball as each week goes by. The defense has looked stout recently with Lawrence Garner and Kaleb Ford-Dement being among the stars on that side of the ball. Monarchs get back RB Lala Davis and WR Eric Kumah after both missed last week’s game against ECU.
As evidence by their record, WKU has been a bit of a mixed bag so far. Their two wins have been upsets against FIU and UAB, the latter of which came last week in Ty Storey’s debut as the starting quarterback. Their losses were against FCS foe Central Arkansas and Louisville.
The Tops’ biggest positive thus far has been the defense. WKU has the third-best scoring defense in the league allowing 25 points per game. DeAngelo Malone leads the league in tackles for loss and has four sacks to this name as well. Jeremy Darvin and JuWuan Jones are making an impact in opposing backfields also.
The secondary hasn’t been consistently great, but they are starting to pick up some momentum after picking off Tyler Johnston four times last week.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tops are beginning to get comfortable in Tyson Helton’s system. Defensive back turned running back Gaej Walker is third in the league in rush yards per game and receiver Jahcour Pearson has become his team’s primary scoring threat thanks to three touchdown catches.
The name of the game for the Tops is being aggressive on both sides of the ball. Helton has already executed several onside kicks this year and you can tell this team just really wants to go back to 2015 and light the scoreboard up. There’s still a good chance for that to happen.
Reese: Old Dominion 28-24
Joe: WKU 35-17