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Choosing C-USA: Week 8 Predictions For Conference USA: Is Old Dominion Ready For The Spotlight?

Old Dominion has a chance to make a huge statement this weekend against Western Kentucky.

NCAA Football: Old Dominion at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Last week four games came down to the wire and the road team won three of them. Last year the conference race was pretty much a forgone conclusion as Southern Miss and Western Kentucky ran away with their divisions but this year everything is up in the air.

Despite the conference not having a dominant team, the league should be able to make up for it with exciting races down the stretch. There are a ton of good games with interesting storylines this week. Can North Texas can inch towards bowl eligibility against Army? Could Ron Cooper and FIU start 4-0 in conference play against a surging La Tech team?

I went undefeated last week for the first time since early in the season and am trying to finish over 80 percent (fingers crossed). This week I expect to get at least one of these wrong.

Choosing C-USA Record: 51-14

Game of the Week

Old Dominion at Western Kentucky (Western Kentucky -13.5)

During Conference USA Media Days Bobby Wilder was frustrated that Old Dominion wasn’t getting any respect as the Monarchs were picked to finish sixth in C-USA East.

Wilder guaranteed the Monarchs would finish better than the media’s predictions and so far the Monarchs have done just that after a rough start during non-conference play.

But after a 2-0 start to conference play ODU is still falling under the radar. If Wilder wants the ODU program to be taken more serious here is his shot as the Monarchs will take on the defending champs on the road with a chance to remain tied for first place.

The biggest reason for ODU’s improvement from last year to this season (other than being healthy) is the play of their offense.

Ray Lawry has been usurped by Jeremy Cox but the rushing attack is still just as potent as the Monarchs rely on two guys to carry the load instead of one like last year. Cox has 420 yards with 9 touchdowns while Lawry has 373 yards with 3 touchdowns.

The biggest difference with this year’s offense is that they have been generating explosive passing plays as the Monarchs rank 33rd in the country in Passing IsoPP.

Zach Pascal is still the focal point of ODU’s passing attack as he leads the receivers in receptions (33), yards (425) and touchdowns (4) but Jonathan Duhart has been a reliable option should WKU decide to double team Pascal as he leads the team with 15.2 yards per catch.

NCAA Football: Old Dominion at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Western Kentucky has yet to play against a dual-threat quarterback in conference play so I am curious to see how they will defend against David Washington. Washington has only 2 interceptions this year while tossing 12 touchdowns while adding 209 yards on the ground but he hasn’t been forced to win any shootouts.

ODU is still a run-first team so I expect them to play keep away. The Monarch’s have had two weeks to prepare for this game and will be fired up so expect to see at least two trick plays.

In the end this game is going to come down to whether ODU can win a shootout. Since Jeff Brohm has been named WKU’s head coach the Tops have averaged 47 points per game in Houchens-Smith Stadium.

WKU is going to score points and they have a defense that will give up points. If ODU has any chance to win this one their offense must go score for score with the Tops. If they get down early it could get out of hand.

S&P+ gives WKU a 66 percent chance to win the game and I agree. The Monarchs will keep it close for a half but I see WKU pulling away for the win 45-30.

The Rest of C-USA...

North Texas at Army

Huge bowl ramifications in this one as Army is 4-2 while North Texas is 3-3. Army rolled up 66 points on UTEP with their option attack in the Sun Bowl so the Mean Green better be ready. UNT’s defense has been solid all season and with two weeks to prepare I think they will be ready to slow down Army’s offense. If Mason Fine can continue to not turnover the ball UNT will go to Upstate New York and come away with a win.

North Texas 34 Army 24

Prairie View at Rice

For David’ Bailiff’s sake I hope the Owls get this win. Would hate to see him leave the Owls with a winless season.

Rice 34 Prairie View 28

Middle Tennessee at Missouri

If the Blue Raiders enter this game fired up they can definitely win this one as the Tigers offense is really bad. In the end I see Mizzou’s defense making a fourth quarter stand to win the game.

Middle Tennessee 23 Missouri 31

Charlotte at Marshall

Marshall came away with much-needed win last week but struggled against FAU. Charlotte has been pesky during conference play and the Herd can’t take them lightly. I have a feeling last week’s win was just what they needed to get their confidence back. Litton has his best game of the season and Marshall rolls.

Marshall 42 Charlotte 20

Louisiana Tech at FIU

FIU has had the benefit of beating three bad teams to start conference play but a win here would make FIU a serious threat to win C-USA East. With the game being played in Miami FIU has a really good shot at pulling off the upset but I don’t think their offense is consistent enough. Carlos Henderson has been torching defenses and I expect him to do the same as Tech wins a high scoring game.

Louisiana Tech 44 FIU 28


If the Roadrunners want to go bowling they need to win this one. UTEP has been trending down and even with two weeks to prepare I don’t think their offense will be capable of scoring enough points to win. The Roadrunners were in this same situation against Rice who also had an extra week but with this game being in the Alamodome I think they do just enough to win a similar game to last week.