Twelve points is the combined total of three of Old Dominion’s four losses.
The first of these was a 27-24 defeat to Wake Forest on Sept. 16, the second a 41-35 loss to Marshall on Sept. 30, and then a 30-27 loss to James Madison last week. The Monarchs’ first loss of the year came to Virginia Tech by a score of 36-17 in Week 1.
Even though the deficit was much larger in the loss to the Hokies, it flashed an early theme that has followed ODU in its losses — they haven’t been a second-half team and have been unable to close out games.
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The Monarchs trailed VT 16-10 at the half and then again 23-17 midway through the third quarter, but were outscored 13-0 in the rest of the contest. They turned it over three times in the second half with each one ending in a score on the other end.
While ODU led 17-0 at the half and 24-13 at the end of the third quarter, losing to Wake Forest was even more gut-wrenching. The Demon Deacons scored 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter and scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on an ODU fumble.
Another self-imposed loss.
What’s even worse about that game is Wake Forest turned the ball over three times while the Monarchs only turned it over twice. But they coughed the ball up at the most critical time.
Can you guess what happened in the loss to Marshall?
That’s right, a pair of turnovers in the second half set ODU back.
They were victim of a pick-six that put the Thundering Herd up by 10 in the third, and when ODU had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, Marshall intercepted another pass to hold on for the win.
The second-half turnover trend didn’t follow ODU in its loss to JMU. In fact, the Monarchs forced more turnovers than the Dukes in that game.
Against the No. 1 team in our Group of Five Top 25, ODU showed what happens if it doesn’t shoot itself in the foot. It hung around against that solid Dukes squad and the game came down to the final possession.
The rest of the season isn’t going to get any easier for the Monarchs.
Coming off that loss to JMU, they host Coastal Carolina before visiting Liberty and Georgia Southern. I believe ODU is the toughest team remaining on each of these teams’ schedules, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled an upset in one of these games. They’ve proved they’re able to keep those games within reach.
To finish the regular season, ODU hosts Georgia State in a game that could dictate bowl eligibility.
I’d like to think that the Monarchs have learned from their critical mistakes this season, and this Ricky Rahne-led squad has fixed those, especially based on last week’s game against not only the best defense in the Sun Belt but one of the best defenses in the FBS in JMU.
If they can continue to get out of their own way, they can pick up a few more wins in the best G5 conference in the country — where they’ve already proven they can compete.