Old Dominion was all over the place last year and that’s usually what happens with a freshman quarterback, but it still managed a 5-7 record after winning Four of its final five Games. With 18 starters back the Monarchs are hoping to break into a bowl. That’s exactly where the over/under is, sitting at 5.5 wins (heavy on the over) with +3400 odds to win C-USA as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Quarterback Steven Williams should be better in his second year after just six passing touchdowns and 11 picks as a freshman. It’d be a disappointment if he didn’t double his passing touchdowns, especially with so many returning seniors around him. Everyone on the line is back, which only adds to the talent at skill positions. Jeremy Cox (621 yards, 4 TDs) takes over as the lead running back after breaking his collarbone late in 2017. Receiver is also loaded with seniors Isaiah Harper (462 yards), Travis Fulgham (394 yards) and Jonathan Duhart, who returns after an injury cost him most of last season. This group scored just 20.7 points per Game last year and there’s no reason to believe it can’t hit 25 points with almost every relevant piece back.
Getting to a bowl may end up falling to the defense, which was slightly better last year yet still gave up close to 32 points per Game. The good news is that all of the playmakers return in the front six from sack master Oshane Ximines (8.5 sacks) to leading tacklers Jordan Young and Marvin Branch at linebacker. The secondary may not have the same kind of talent, but there are three seniors at safety and nickel back to go with a couple corners that played sparingly last season. The hope for the Monarchs is that those guys put it all together and stop some of the better teams on the Schedule. It starts up front and stopping the run, which is the first road for improvement after allowing more than 200 rushing yards per Game.
The Schedule is there for Old Dominion to reach a bowl. There’s a chance to win the first three Games before hosting Virginia Tech. Then again, there’s also a chance the Monarchs lose two of their first three and start at 1-3 before traveling to both ECU and FAU. Because of a difficult middle-season slate, those first three Games could decide everything for this team. If they want to reach a bowl Game, it will likely require winning the last three Games and they may be favored in all three if things break well. Getting an upset will be important with the early trip to ECU or home Games against Marshall and MTSU being the best chances. The Monarchs put things together in the final month last season and if they can build off some of those wins, six wins is a good bet for a team with so many returning starters.
2018 Old Dominion Monarchs Football Schedule
Sept. 1 at Liberty
Sept. 8 vs. Florida International
Sept. 15 at Charlotte
Sept. 22 vs. Virginia Tech
Sept. 29 at East Carolina
Oct. 6 at Florida Atlantic
Oct. 13 vs. Marshall
Oct. 20 at Western Kentucky
Oct. 27 vs. Middle Tennessee
Nov. 10 vs. North Texas
Nov. 17 vs. VMI
Nov. 24 at Rice