The Myrtle Beach Bowl debuted last season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year’s matchup will mark the first edition of the game under more normal circumstances as Old Dominion and Tulsa square off in the first meeting between the programs. Though both teams are 6-6, both are entering with momentum after strong finishes to the regular seasons. Tulsa won its final three games, while Old Dominion won its final six.
In this game last season, Appalachian State beat North Texas 56-28 in a game that featured more than 1,100 yards of total offense, including 500 yards rushing for Appalachian State along with a combined 21 penalties totaling more than 200 yards. Both the teams in this season’s game are among the most-penalized in college football, and neither plays great defense, which means the second Myrtle Beach Bowl could have a similar flavor to the first.
Ultimately, it will be a battle between two surging teams looking to finish their seasons with winning records after that possibility seemed out of reach earlier in the season. For Old Dominion, the game should be particularly significant as it is just the program’s second bowl appearance since joining the FBS in 2014.
Tulsa vs. Old Dominion: Need to know
Ups and downs: Tulsa has been on an incredible roller coaster ride under seventh-year coach Philip Montgomery. After inheriting a two-win team, he led the Golden Hurricane to a bowl appearance in 2015 and a 10-win season the following year. But then Tulsa won just nine total games over the following three seasons. Tulsa cycled back up to 6-3 in 2020, but then it began the 2021 season 1-4. But the Golden Hurricane closed the regular season with an impressive 34-31 road win over SMU and could certainly claim positive momentum if they are able to end the season with a fourth straight victory.
Started at the bottom: Old Dominion hired Ricky Rahne as head coach in December of 2019 on the heels of a 1-11 season, plucking him from the offensive coordinator position at Penn State. Then, the Monarchs canceled their 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So Rahne had the job for more than a year and a half before ever coaching his first game, and the roster’s rust showed during a 1-6 start. ODU’s lone win in that stretch came against Hampton of the FCS ranks. But after a bye week in late October, things began to click as the team ticked off five straight wins, including three that came by at least two touchdowns. Reaching a bowl after a 2-17 stretch interrupted by a lost season is nothing short of a monumental accomplishment for a program in its eighth season of FBS football.
Limiting miscues: Tulsa turned the football over 24 times this season, which tied for 127th among the 130 FBS teams. Old Dominion wasn’t much better in that regard, turning the football over 21 times during the regular season. Both ranked near the bottom of the FBS ranks in total penalties as well, meaning neither of these teams played particularly buttoned-up football over the course of the season. The fact that they’ll be entering this bowl off a multi-week hiatus and playing in the loose environment of a bowl game may not help things in that regard. Whichever team plays more disciplined will certainly have a leg up.
How to watch Myrtle Beach Bowl live
Game: Myrtle Beach Bowl
Date: Monday, Dec. 20 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Brooks Stadium — Conway, South Carolina
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Myrtle Beach Bowl prediction, picks
This game marks the culmination of a long journey back to bowl eligibility for Old Dominion. The Monarchs should have no problem being motivated. Tulsa has played in bigger games than this one in 2021 and might not match the energy. Both teams are mistake-prone with turnovers and penalties, so the Monarchs should create enough chaos to keep it close. Prediction: Old Dominion (+9.5)
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