Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports and Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Old Dominion Monarchs head coach Bobby Wilder and Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert
Old Dominion at Charlotte Betting Odds
- Betting Odds: Old Dominion -1.5
- Over/Under: 40
- Time: 4 p.m. ET, Thursday
- TV Channel: ESPN3
>> All odds as of 8 a.m. ET on Thursday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
While the primary concern are those in the path of Hurricane Florence, bettors have seen the looming storm wreak havoc on college football’s Week 3 slate. As of Thursday morning, 11 FBS games have been either canceled or moved to an earlier day or time.
One of the games that did get moved to Thursday involves the Old Dominion Monarchs and Charlotte 49ers — two projected bottom feeders in Conference USA.
While these aren’t the 49ers you thought you’d be betting on Thursdays in 2018, this could be even uglier than what we’ve seen in past Thursday night NFL games.
With such a massive storm headed to the Charlotte area, I knew winds (which I care much more about than rain when it comes to betting) could have a massive impact on this game. The National Weather Service’s forecast for Charlotte calls for winds around 15 mph for most of the late afternoon with gusts over 20 mph.
When capping football, 15 mph is the speed threshold when deciding if wind will significantly impact play. The total dropped eight points from its open of 48 down to 40 before settling in around 44/45 this morning. It also doesn’t hurt that these two teams possessed two of the worst offenses in the country in 2017.
So, what does that mean? Well, I don’t expect either team to pass much considering their struggles this year and the weather. I think a heavy rushing attack game favors Charlotte for three primary reasons.
Before I even started to dig into the advanced metrics, I knew wind would hurt ODU more since Charlotte perennially has one of the worst passing offenses (and pass defenses) in the country. The 49ers finished 2017 with a horrific 47.0% completion percentage — fifth-worst in the FBS.
Only UTEP and option offenses had a lower completion percentage. The wind will not significantly hurt a Charlotte team that has called a run on 60.56% of its plays — a top-25 rate in FBS this year.
That running game features two explosive backs (Benny LeMay and Aaron McAllister) in addition to potentially quarterback Hasaan Klugh — who can all create in the open field. In 2017, the 49ers ranked in the top 10 in rushing IsoPPP (which measures explosiveness) and they brought all of their primary pieces back. The 49ers also saw a defensive scheme that is similar to ODU’s in its opener vs. Fordham.
On the other hand, Old Dominion featured one of the worst rushing attacks in the country last year. And now, it’s dealing with injuries to its two top running backs, which you can hear head coach Bobby Wilder talk about in the below clip at the 3:10 mark.
Consequently, ODU’s running game, which finished 120th in S&P+ last year, could feature a number of freshmen on Thursday. Don’t expect too many big runs from a rushing attack that had the 12th-fewest runs of 10-plus yards in 2017.
I already mentioned that Charlotte finished last year in the top 10 in rush offense explosiveness. Well, it also finished in the top 10 in defending it, which bodes well for a 49ers defensive unit that returns the sixth-most production nationally.
In addition to possibly playing without two starting running backs, Old Dominion is also dealing with injuries to starting middle linebacker Marvin Branch (leading tackler last year) and starting tackle Chad Hendricks. Both seniors were listed as questionable for Saturday, so having the game moved up a few days doesn’t help either. Each would be missed in the running game on their respective side of the ball.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is not dealing with any significant injuries — although Nate Davis’ four-game suspension to start the year does hurt its offensive line.
Once school officials decided on Wednesday morning to move this game up two days, I knew both teams would likely be underprepared. However, I think the change of plans probably favors Charlotte, which might have spent Wednesday cramming in what it didn’t cover — while ODU had to make travel arrangements and a five-hour bus ride to Charlotte.
ODU has its biggest game of the season next week, as it hosts in-state big brother Virginia Tech. The Monarchs could come out a little flat for a Thursday afternoon game against Charlotte with all of the potential distractions (storm, Va. Tech).
Meanwhile, the experienced 49ers should have revenge on their minds. ODU has defeated the C-USA startup each of the past three seasons, including a 52-17 blowout win on Charlotte’s home turf in 2016.
These are very minor factors, but still worth considering.
Bet to Watch
I think the windy conditions and sudden shift in kickoff time from Saturday to Thursday benefit Charlotte more. The 49ers are healthier, more experienced and play a style that suits these anticipated conditions perfectly.
That said, this game is still very ugly between two bottom-10 FBS teams with a lot of unique variables, so don’t go crazy. However, I think most of the externalities favor the home team, which I see value in at plus-money.
The Pick: Charlotte +1.5