Nov 11 / Todd

JMU @ ODU: Official JMUSB Game #9 Preview

Homecoming for Kaelon this week

The Basics

Matchup: JMU Dukes (5-3, 3-2 Sun Belt) at Old Dominion Monarchs (3-6, 2-3 Sun Belt)

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. EST. Saturday, November 12, 2022, S.B. Ballard Stadium (The Oyster Bowl), Norfolk, VA

Weather: Partly cloudy, 75. Winds 10-15. Pretty darned perfect for November ball.

Broadcast: ESPN+

Boys in the Desert: JMU -7.5, O/U 46.5

How We Got Here

Both teams seasons have mirrored each other a good bit. A month ago both teams were on top of the world about their first season in the Sun Belt (well, in ODU’s case their first season back in the Sun Belt). ODU was only 3-3 at the time but coming off a blowout win down at Coastal, sitting on top of the East at 2-0, and they’d played an out of conference schedule to that point that was exactly what fans had always dreamed of since they’d gone FBS a decade ago. They had opened with the HOME win over the Hokies, lost a game they should’ve won at UVA, and played relatively competitive games against strong ECU and Liberty teams.

How ODU Can Win

Score points and throw the ball to Ali Jennings. “Score points” sounds stupid but ODU lost 12-0 to Marshall last week so, you know, scoring points would help. The Monarch’s defense has been…fine. It’s not exceptional at anything but it’s been opportunistic at times creating turnovers and good enough all year to keep them in games and give them a chance against an objectively strong schedule. But offensively, ODU has one of the nation’s best, and most overlooked, players in receiver Ali Jennings III. Sometimes he personally is the offense for the Monarchs, and he’s so good that often that’s enough. Through ODU’s first seven games, he led them in receiving every game and never had less than 87 yards. Five of the seven he was well over 100 yards and he had a staggering 200 down at ECU. Then the last two weeks, Georgia State and Marshall held him to 7 catches and 60 yards combined and the Monarchs scored a total of 17 points after being shut out by the Herd. But with JMU’s youth and inexperience at corner, not to mention suspect tackling of late across the back end, Jennings must be licking his chops for this one. If ODU can slow down JMU’s pass rush enough, things could get real ugly for JMU’s banged up secondary.

How JMU Can Win

Get to the QB and rediscover their offense. Defensively, this is rather simple. Unless JMU is suddenly changing up its whole gameplan and philosophy by playing more zone or soft coverage, we all know what the equation is for success. Against this team, and a player like Jennings, the Dukes pass rush simply has to get home on ODU QB Hayden Wolff. If the Dukes crank this up like we’ve seen them do in situations like this before (remember “the Hoodie” game against the Ticks and the glorious Soft Houston night?), the Monarchs don’t appear to have many other options.

Offensively, the Dukes need to get back to what made them successful earlier this year. The RPO game needs to return to the middle routes and get away from simply “chuck it down the sideline and hope.” WR screens, jet sweeps, and power run all have chances against a defense that’s been exposed in the running game a few times lately. While the Centeio and Kidwell injuries have grabbed all the headlines the last few weeks, the quiet truth is the offense is actually in better health at this point than the Dukes ravaged defense.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Commonwealth Brewing’s Papi Chulo IPA. Yes, Commonwealth remains frustratingly overpriced most places in the state. But this one is so good, it comes in purple cans, and it’s from Virginia Beach. Just too spot-on to pass up for this week’s trip.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Whispers this week say Rob may have been a little too accurate in his comments regarding JMU’s approach to last week’s Louisville game on Monday’s pod. Our guess here is Toddy TD and his line look a lot healthier this week and we see a whole lot more of the offense that made us all giddy earlier in the year. That said, this is the renewal of what seems destined to be a massive rivalry and it’s hard to see either team letting it get totally away from them early. The Monarchs are going to find Jennings and the Dukes are going to struggle to stop him. But JMU simply has more weapons and options as both teams adjust. Plus, after all of the fun craziness of the first five weeks, we’re exactly where we thought we’d be when the move to the Sun belt was announced. JMU is 5-3 and ODU is 3-6 and the national spotlight will be lightyears away from Norfolk this week. But for these two teams, and these two fanbases, this is still a HUGE game. It’s sold out, it’s ODU’s Oyster Bowl week, and it just means so much more than any FCS game did in years. For the Monarchs, they have to win to keep bowl hopes alive. For the Dukes, they have to get the “never beaten ODU” monkey off their backs. For both teams, this will set a tone for recruiting battles, program momentum, and offseason vibes. At it’s core, it’s one of those November Saturdays that make college football the absolute best. It doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else when it means everything to those involved.

JMU 27, ODU 20

One Comment

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  1. CJ / Nov 12 2022

    Tough loss last week, but not entirely unexpected. Louisville is a very good team, and while we looked pretty good in the first half we just couldn’t keep up. Although it was the worse loss of the Cignetti era, I still feel proud of the team for showing that they can legitimately play, compete, and potentially win against good FBS teams.

    However, I’m not necessarily confident about this ODU game. ODU is a good team, and I think a dark horse for catching us. ODU still has bowl aspirations to play for, while JMU might be struggling for motivation after three tough losses and no bowl chances. That’s also the nature of FBS football, teams like ODU are still capable of beating other teams which might appear superior on paper. So I’m hoping for the best, but also tempering expectations after the past three reality checks.

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