College Football Odds & Picks for Old Dominion vs. Wake Forest: Target Friday’s Total (Sept. 3)

College Football Odds & Picks for Old Dominion vs. Wake Forest: Target Friday’s Total (Sept. 3) article feature image

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Hartman.

  • After opting out of the 2020 season, the Old Dominion Monarchs will hit the gridiron to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
  • Matt Wispe doesn't expect much from the Monarchs or Deacons in Friday night's matchup.
  • Check out his full betting breakdown, complete with i

College Football Week 1 Odds

Old Dominion vs. Wake Forest

Friday, Sept. 3
7 p.m. ET
ACC Network

Old Dominion Odds

-110o / -110u

Wake Forest Odds

-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings as of Friday.

Old Dominion travels to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest in the 2021 debut for both teams.

Old Dominion is coming off of a canceled 2020 season, and Wake Forest is coming off of its worst season since 2015.  Both of these teams enter the year with reasons for optimism.

Weather conditions couldn't be better, as the forecast is in the mid-70s with only five mile-per-hour winds. This should allow these two offenses the best chance to score.

Whether the team talent will do the same is a much different question, however.

Old Dominion Monarchs

It will have been 633 days since Ricky Rahne was announced as the head coach at Old Dominion. In his debut game, he'll hope to show an improved team from the 2019 team that finished 1-11 and led to the resignation of Bobby Wilder.

The Monarchs have a TARP rating of 67% on offense and 63% on defense.  They heavily utilized the transfer portal to improve their roster, and according to the depth chart, they'll be starting five transfer players.

Monarchs Offense

Rahne brings along Kirk Campbell, who served as an offensive analyst alongside him at Penn State.

In his two seasons at Penn State, his offenses averaged 34.7 points per game and 24.5 seconds per play. While he's unlikely to maintain the same level of success, the Monarch offense has potential

Rahne has made an intentional decision to not name a starting quarterback until the game kicks off. However, based on his time at Penn State, there's a reasonable assumption that he'll prefer a mobile QB. Both Stone Smartt and D.J. Mack provide some upside as runners, with Smartt rushing for 181 yards and five touchdowns in 2019 and Mack rushing for 516 yards and nine scores during his time at UCF.

With either option, it's very likely that this offense would lean in favor of a slower-paced running offense that allows time to keep moving and possessions to come at a premium.

Another indication that the Monarchs may lean on a less explosive offense is Rahne's offseason emphasis on the tight end position. During his two seasons with Penn State, the offense utilized the TE as the second-leading receiver.

However, there's reason to question the success of the offense with their current offensive line. The Monarchs return two starters from their 2019 team. They also will be starting two transfers and a former walk-on on their offensive line unit.

If their line resembles anything close to the 2019 unit that allowed Havoc on 25.6% of plays, then this offense will have trouble consistently moving the ball.

Monarchs Defense

In the preseason SP+ rankings, Old Dominion checks in as the 12th-worst defense in the country.

There's plenty of reason for this low ranking.

The defense allowed 29.8 points per game in 2019, a Success Rate of 42.7%, and 3.8 points per opportunity, but it generated Havoc on 22% of plays.

During his pre-game press conference, Rahne emphasized the team's focus on slowing down the Wake Forest rushing attack. Linebacker Jordan Young, who has 246 career tackles, is expected to be the centerpiece of that game plan.

Along the defensive line, players have reportedly practiced well, but only defensive end Marcus Haynes has played for ODU. Three freshmen could potentially be in line to start.

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Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Dave Clawson enter his eighth season as the head coach of the Demon Deacons. After a streak of four straight years with at least seven wins, they managed only a 4-5 record last season, including a loss to Wisconsin in the Duke's Mayo Bowl.

Even in a down season, Clawson's team proved it wouldn't beat itself. It had a +10 turnover margin which ranked eighth, nationally.

The Deacons return 86% of their offensive production and 75% of their defensive production.

Demon Deacons Offense

As has come to be expected, Wake Forest played at a fast pace in 2020. It averaged 21.8 seconds per play, which ranked fourth.

Sam Hartman returns for his second consecutive season as the starting QB. He completed 58.1% of his passes and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. If 2020 is the expectation, Hartman is unlikely to contribute as a runner, as he failed to rush for positive yardage for the year, although he did score twice.

The WR corps took a hit with the season-ending injury to Donavon Greene, but they'll be buoyed by returning leader Jaquarii Roberson. Roberson accounted for a 36.5% share of the team passing yards and eight of the team's 14 passing scores.

With Kenneth Walker transferring to Michigan State, the bulk of the running game falls on the shoulders of Christian Beal-Smith. Beal-Smith has averaged 4.9 yards per carry over his career but has contributed less than 0.5 receptions per game.

Wake Forest had a Rushing Success Rate of 41%, which ranked 92nd nationally. But with the team returning four starters, improvement is expected.

Demon Deacons Defense

In 2020, this defense allowed a Success Rate of 46.7%. Somewhat more concerning is that it allowed 4.2 points per opportunity.

The strength of this defense in 2020 was the defensive line limiting opponent Line Yards and stuffing rush attempts. Additionally, it was above average in generating Havoc.

The defensive line must replace Carlos "Boogie" Basham, who became a second-round NFL Draft pick, but it returns three players who contributed along the front. While camp reports suggest that the team will be able to replace Basham, they also suggested a lessened ability to create Havoc in the backfield.

The secondary appears to be a concern. The 2020 team interception leader, Nick Anderson, is expected to contribute this season but is currently dealing with an injury that kept him off of the depth chart for the opener.

But both of the two starting cornerbacks, Ja'Sir Taylor and Caelen Carson, played nearly all of the team's games last season.  However, the two starting safeties combined for just three game appearances.

Old Dominion vs.  Wake Forest Betting Pick

According to our PRO Report, both sharp and big money wagers have come in on Wake Forest to cover the 31.5-point spread. Fifty-two percent of bets and 76% of the money has come in on the Demon Deacons. However, it's the total that stands out here.

At 64, there's value on the under. Wake Forest will keep an efficient pace, but Old Dominion's running focus should limit possessions. SP+ projects this total at 52, and that's in line with my analysis.

Pick: Under 64 (Play to 61.5)

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