The Charlotte 49ers (2-3, 0-2) will travel to face the Old Dominion Monarchs (2-3, 0-1) in a Conference USA clash Saturday afternoon. This will be the first meeting between the two programs since they both moved to the FBS level of competition.
Charlotte is coming off a bye week last week; they were walloped 37-3 by Temple two weeks ago in their most recent action. Old Dominion is also coming off a bye and was defeated 27-7 by Marshall two weeks ago. This one kicks off at 3:30 pm ET from S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Virginia and will not be nationally televised. Old Dominion is currently a 5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 48.5 points.
Charlotte played decent football for the first half as they were down 10-3 but the wheels fell off as they gave up 20 points in the third quarter. The 49ers outgained the Owls 354-322 in the contest and both teams only turned the ball over once but special teams proved to hurt Charlotte. Temple blocked a punt for a score and Charlotte averaged just 30.2 yards on five punts. That combination helped set the Owls up with short fields; the Owls had their three touchdown drives offensively in the second half cover 47, 39 and 25 yards.
The 49ers are going through growing pains offensively as they are 110th in passing (169.8 yards) and 83rd in rushing (161.4 yards) offense per contest. Charlotte is averaging 16 points per game and they are just 92nd in scoring defense by allowing 31.4 points per contest. Three quarterbacks have seen action for the 49ers; they have combined to complete 49 percent of their passes for 849 yards while averaging 5.48 yards per pass attempt with four touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Kalif Phillips is the team’s leading rusher with 99 carries for 499 yards and two scores. Andrew Buie is the second back in the system; he contributes 50 carries for 222 yards. Only one player has double digit receptions for the 49ers which means that Austin Duke (23 receptions, 304 yards, 2 TD) is the go-to receiver; no one else has more than nine grabs. Blake Brewer has booted all nine extra points and six of 10 field goal attempts on the year with a long of 45 yards; he’s missed one between 20 and 29 yards while misfiring twice between 30 and 39 yards.
Old Dominion had a decent defensive performance against Marshall but the offense didn’t do much to help them out. The Monarchs were outgained in the game 324-285 and lost the turnover battle 4-2; one of those turnovers set up the opening score of the game as Marshall took over at the Old Dominion 10 yard line. Old Dominion also turned the ball over twice on downs and failed to find the end zone until less than 3 minutes remained in the game.
The Monarchs are another struggling young FBS program as they are 120th (138.2 yards) in passing offense and 85th (158 yards) in rushing on the year. Old Dominion is scoring 20 points per game while they stand tied for 93rd in scoring defense by allowing 31.8 points per contest. The passing game is anemic as Shuler Bentley has hit 70 of 140 passes for 691 yards, leaving him with a 4.94 yards per pass attempt mark with three touchdowns and five picks. Ray Lawry is the feature back in the ground game with 107 carries for 635 yards and seven touchdowns; the rest of the team has combined for 78 carries for 155 yards and one score. Zach Pascal has grabbed a team leading 14 passes for 124 yards; Johnathan Duhart is the only other player with double digit receptions as he has 10 for a team leading 132 yards and a score. Three kickers have combined to hit all 11 extra points and 2 of 4 field goal attempts on the year.
Old Dominion and Charlotte are two teams that are still trying to make an impact at the FBS level after transitioning in recent years. Both programs have difficulty moving the ball at times and they have struggled to stop opposing teams from scoring at will at times. Old Dominion has a better run game to work with and the Monarchs don’t have the weapons to stick eight or nine guys in the box to try and contain Lawry. The Monarchs win this contest by a touchdown or so to get their first conference win of the year.