College Football Odds, Prediction, Pick for Old Dominion vs. Liberty: Bet the Flames in Week 3 (September 18)

College Football Odds, Prediction, Pick for Old Dominion vs. Liberty: Bet the Flames in Week 3 (September 18) article feature image
Credit:

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Willis.

  • Liberty is a 27-point favorite on Saturday against Old Dominion on Saturday.
  • The Flames have been one of bettors’ favorite teams since the start of last season, going 11-2 against the spread.
  • Kyle Remillard breaks down this lopsided matchup and makes his pick below.

Old Dominion vs. Liberty Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
6 p.m. ET
ESPN3
Old Dominion Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+27.5
-110
53.5
-110o / -110u
+2200
Liberty Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-27.5
-110
53.5
-110o / -110u
-6500
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Old Dominion travels to Lynchburg, Virginia, to face off against the red-hot Liberty Flames.

The Flames had their best season in school history in 2020,  finishing 10-1 and No. 17 in the Associated Press Poll. They had wins over Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Coastal Carolina while finishing 9-2 against the spread (ATS).

They’ve continued both those trends so far in 2021, starting out 2-0 straight-up and ATS.

Old Dominion, on the other hand, didn’t see the field last season after opting out of the 2020 season.

As Darren Rovell reported, one of FanDuel’s most popular regular-season win totals was on under 5.5 wins for Old Dominion. The Monarchs 1-1 this year with a 32-point loss to Wake Forest and 40-point victory over FCS opponent Hampton.


Old Dominion Monarchs

The Ricky Rahne era has finally begun since taking the head coaching position in 2019.

Rahne inherited an offense that ranked among the bottom of the country in offensive efficiency. Prior to this season, he brought in a slew of transfers to help retool this offense and help employ the same spread system that worked for him at Penn State.

The only issue is he won’t have the same talent level as he did in Happy Valley.


Monarchs Offense

Rahne made a calculated decision in not naming a starting quarterback before kickoff of Old Dominion’s season opener. He ultimately gave the job to UCF transfer D.J. Mack Jr., who rushed for 516 yards and nine touchdowns in his career at Central Florida.

In Mack’s first game against Wake Forest, he completed just 7-of-21 pass attempts for 39 yards. He averaged 1.9 yards per attempt and threw two interceptions while rushing eight times for just 13 yards. Mack did bounce back against Hampton, which was expected against an inferior opponent.

The Monarchs rushing game provided no help in that loss to Wake Forest , averaging 3.7 yards per carry on 39 attempts.


Monarchs Defense

Old Dominion’s defense in 2019 ranked among the worst in the country, allowing 29.8 points per game and a Success Rate of 42.7%. The Monarchs lost the majority of their interior line to the transfer portal and have been in rebuild mode after opting out in 2020.

Rahne made it a point of emphasis to slow down the Wake Forest rushing attack and held them to 4.0 yards per carry on 41 attempts.

Unfortunately, Old Dominion was torched through the air, allowing Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman to average 7.0 yards per attempt on 27 throws, as well as tossing three touchdowns.

The Old Dominion defense ranks 93rd in tackling and 109th in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Missing tackles in space is a recipe for disaster against a quarterback who is capable of explosive plays like Malik Willis.

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Liberty Flames

Liberty continues to roll thanks to Hugh Freeze’s dynamic offense and has only suffered one loss in the last two seasons.

That loss was a one-point defeat to North Carolina State, which saw a Flames game-tying field goal attempt blocked in the final drive.


Flames Offense

Liberty’s offense is one of the most explosive in the country, having ranked 16th in 2020 with 38.2 points per game.

The Flames are led by a potential top-10 draft pick in Willis, a dual-threat quarterback who rushed for just under 1,000 yards last season on 6.7 yards per carry. He also threw for 2,250 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing 64.2% of his passes.

So far this season, Willis is averaging 10.1 yards per pass attempt and has thrown four touchdowns. He’s also going to make tacklers miss in space against an Old Dominion defense that ranks 93rd in PFF Tackling team.

All four of Liberty’s leading rushers from last season averaged over 5.7 yards per carry. The leader of that group is Joshua Mack, who leads all active FBS players in career rushing yards.

This offense ranked 14th in Offensive Touchdown Rate and 12th in yards per play.

The Flames should be able to create big plays against this Old Dominion defense who was torched by Wake Forest.


Flames Defense

Liberty runs a 3-4 defensive scheme that can get after the quarterback with help of dominant linebackers TreShaun Clark and Durrell Johnson.

Last year, the duo combined for 21.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Through two games this defensive unit has continued that trend with 12 tackles for loss and five sacks.

The Flames returned nine starters from last season on defense and added two transfers in cornerback Duron Lowe and safety Skylar Thomas.

Liberty’s run defense was a question mark entering the season, but it has shown signs of improvement through two weeks. The Flames have allowed just 2.0 yards per rush and an average of 53.5 rushing yards through two weeks.


Old Dominion vs. Liberty Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Old Dominion and Liberty match up statistically:

Old Dominion Offense vs. Liberty Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 25 84
Line Yards 9 81
Pass Success 25 63
Pass Blocking* 64 56
Big Play 109 82
Havoc 42
Finishing Drives 71
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Liberty Offense vs. Old Dominion Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 11 24
Line Yards 47 99
Pass Success 33 25
Pass Blocking* 95 113
Big Play 22 30
Havoc 62
Finishing Drives 58 71
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 93 45
PFF Coverage 109 73
Middle 8 68 22
SP+ Special Teams 76 91
Plays per Minute 42 126
Rush Rate 58.1% (51) 65.2% (15)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.


Old Dominion vs. Liberty Betting Pick

It’s impressive that Liberty continues to cover spreads while ranking 126th in plays per minute. Even with a big lead, Freeze isn’t afraid of keeping his foot on the pedal.

Liberty will be the toughest opponent that Old Dominion will face all season, and this is the Monarchs’ third game in over 650 days.

Old Dominion is the 125th rated team according to Collin Wilson’s Power Ratings, which means the Monarchs are in for a rude awakening against one of the hottest teams in the country.

Pick: Liberty -27 (Play to -28)

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