NORFOLK, Va. — On October 15th Old Dominion went to Coastal Carolina and made what appeared to be a resounding statement.
The Monarchs didn't just beat the previously undefeated Chanitcleers, they dominated. They trampled up and down CC's turquoise home field to the tune of 323 rushing yards. The offense also added 3 passing touchdowns while the defense recorded 7 sacks. The victory was arguably more impressive than their season opening win over Virginia Tech.
That win also completed a brutal early schedule with the Monarchs sitting at 3-3. That record against that level of competition seemed to portend a march toward bowl qualification.
What followed instead was a series of competitive losses with stretches of great play but never a full game to rival their Coastal peak. The Monarchs haven't won since that game, while Coastal has yet to register a non-ODU loss.
The Monarchs enter their season finale with South Alabama devoid of stakes, on paper. There is no bowl or conference championship to qualify for. Naturally questions for head coach Ricky Rahne this week revolved around how all of the above would impact his approach to the game, specifically in terms of personnel.
"Whoever's gonna help us win this game is going to play, whether it's their first year on campus or their last year on campus," said Rahne. The response is not unexpected, after all this team has stuck by their 1-0 mantra through all variety of results this season.
That may be the reason that, despite their record, the feeling around the program remains one of optimism. At least from my observation, there is a pervasive belief that this is a really good football team, albeit one that left some wins on the table. That team appears poised to bring their all into the finale, and hopefully finish the season on a familiar high note.