Famous Toastery Bowl Preview: Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion Prediction


Famous Toastery Bowl Preview: Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion

Breakfast, brunch, lunch. All at once. That’s the slogan for Famous Toastery, which is a Charlotte-based restaurant franchise that has more than 25 locations. This will be more of a lunch game on the East Coast, but a brunch game on the West Coast with an early-afternoon kickoff. Instead of playing the bowl game in the Bahamas, Western Kentucky and Old Dominion will play the Famous Toastery Bowl in Charlotte at Jerry Richardson Stadium, the home of the 49ers.


Nothing against Charlotte, which is a great town, but it’s not the Bahamas, so that’s a bit of a bummer for these kids, but it is a bowl game and the last chance to play football for some of them, so motivation shouldn’t be a huge factor. That said, there are a lot of potential opt-outs for Western Kentucky that could have an impact on the game.

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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Old Dominion Monarchs (-2.5, 54.5)

Monday, December 18, 2:30 p.m. ET

Odds as of 12/14, 5:30 p.m. PT

Opt-outs and transfer portal happenings are the big stories in this game, including some that were up in the air for a while. For Western Kentucky, their biggest opt-out questions were WR Malachi Corley and QB Austin Reed. Corley has legitimate NFL upside and has over 3,000 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns in his career. Reed may find his way onto a roster after throwing for over 8,000 yards and 71 touchdown passes in two seasons as a transfer from West Florida.

But, the bigger area of concern for the Hilltoppers is on the offensive line, where Quantavious Leslie, Vincent Murphy, and Wes Dorsey, who combined for nearly 2,500 snaps at LG, C, and RT, respectively, are in the transfer portal. Several defensive players are as well, including CB Upton Stout, LB Desmyn Baker, and S Talique Allen. Western Kentucky has been rotating in a lot of guys during practices, so it will be interesting to see how much they’ve come together and how much depth they have. It will also be interesting to see who plays and who doesn’t, as players in the portal can still participate in the bowl game if they choose.

Old Dominion will be down a receiver as well, as Javon Harvey, who tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns, moves on. The bigger loss is defensive back Terry Jones, who racked up over 100 tackles this season. But, the Monarchs would seem to be more excited for the game and the direction of the program given that they have fewer guys looking to move on. This group has never won a bowl game, losing in the 2021 Myrtle Beach Bowl to Tulsa. The only bowl win in history came in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl over Eastern Michigan.

It is hard to look at the full-season numbers for either team and make any determinations with several players up in the air for Western Kentucky that could impact Old Dominion’s upside on both sides of the ball. We may see some game-time decisions as a result.

Here’s what we do know: Western Kentucky had the second-fewest rushing attempts of any team with 322 and the ninth-most passing attempts with 483. Whether Reed plays or redshirt freshman Turner Helton gets the call, WKU will want to throw and throw a lot. Helton was 8-for-8 for 82 yards during the regular season.

What we also know is that Old Dominion needed something of a miracle to make a bowl game. They beat Georgia State 25-24 in walk-off fashion after trailing 21-0 at half and trailing by 10 with 1:37 left. In four of their six wins, including a win over Texas A&M Commerce, the Monarchs failed to score more than 25 points. But, they also played tough in the majority of their losses, including a three-point loss to Wake Forest and a near-miss upset bid against James Madison.

The Monarchs allowed 61 sacks, which was the most in the country by far. The loss of Harvey for this one will hurt, as QB Grant Wilson absorbed 51 of those sacks, but he did manage a 16/7 TD/INT ratio. This should be about running the ball for ODU, as Kadarius Calloway had 78 carries for 594 yards and Keshawn Wicks averaged five yards per pop on 110 tries. This is a very deliberate Old Dominion offense.

So, while I like ODU given the offensive line concerns and what I believe to be a motivation gap in this game, I also think Under 54.5 makes sense.

Pick: Under 54.5

Game Trends from Steve Makinen

* W KENTUCKY has gone OVER the total in L3 bowl games and is 6-2 OVER since ’14 – FAVORS OVER

* OLD DOMINION lost both of its earlier two bowl games ATS – FAVORS W KENTUCKY