Western Kentucky meets Old Dominion in the temporarily renamed Famous Toastery Bowl on Monday. Let’s dive into the odds and best bets for Monday’s midday matchup.
Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion Prediction & Best Bet
Western Kentucky has suffered a few notable losses from its secondary, which could help even these offenses out, but it’s tough to ignore the ability of the Hilltoppers’ passing game when Austin Reed and his NFL-caliber WR Malachi Corley are both still on the field. Reed has thrown for 275+ yards in seven of his last nine games, and while turnovers have been an occasional issue, Old Dominion’s pass defense isn’t particularly a strength.
The Monarchs should be able to put points on the board and put pressure on Western Kentucky’s offense to keep up, but whether they can take advantage of the secondary is a question after they relied on their running game during the season. The Hilltoppers’ run defense struggled in the regular season, but they also faced the two most efficient rushing attacks in the Group of Five (Liberty, New Mexico State). Old Dominion’s backfield isn’t up to that standard, and Western Kentucky should have an easier time handling it without too many losses from its run defense.
With the spread under a field goal, it makes more sense to take Western Kentucky moneyline (+120) in the Famous Toastery Bowl.
Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion Prediction & Best Bet: Western Kentucky ML (+120)
Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion Betting Odds
Old Dominion is a slight 2.5-point favorite in the Famous Toastery Bowl, sitting at -140 on the moneyline. The over/under is 55.5 points.
The Hilltoppers opened as favorites when this matchup was set, but transfer portal exits have hurt Western Kentucky more than Old Dominion. Still, they’ve won a bowl in each of the last two seasons. Can WKU make it three in a row?
Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Saturday’s game between Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion.
Old Dominion Running Game vs. Western Kentucky Run Defense
Old Dominion is dealing with a few transfer portal exits as well, but its strong rushing attack is intact. Between Kadarius Calloway and Keshawn Wicks, who combined for 1,146 yards and 8 touchdowns on 6.1 yards per carry, the backfield has a great opportunity against a leaky Hilltoppers run defense.
Western Kentucky allowed 4.8 yards per attempt in 2023, 105th out of 133 FBS teams. The unit performed much better in WKU’s last two games, but that was against two opponents well below .500.
The Hilltoppers also lost a notable run defender in Desmyn Baker, though the unit is pretty much intact beyond that exit. If Western Kentucky can’t find a way to contain the Old Dominion ground game, pressure will be on the offense to score frequently.
Malachi Corley vs. Old Dominion Secondary
Western Kentucky has lost some pieces, but WR Malachi Corley – a potential Day 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft – is expected to play at this time. That’s a major boost for the Hilltoppers’ offense. Corley has 958 yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 games this season after posting 1,295 yards in 2022. He averaged 12.8 yards per catch in both seasons.
Old Dominion’s pass defense had an up and down regular season, performing better in the last two games but sitting a bit below average at 7.5 yards allowed per pass attempt. Facing a pass-heavy attack with Western Kentucky’s top offensive weapon on the field, the Monarchs might have to rise up and force a couple turnovers. Keeping Corley in check for the entire game will be a difficult task.