Old Dominion has hosted a couple of ACCteams in recent years, but it will be special when Virginia Tech comes to Norfolk this weekend. The Hokies have had great success recruiting the Tidewater area and as a result have a large following on the opposite side of the state.
ODU has stumbled out of the gate in 2018, losing its first three games, including a dreadful defeat in the season opener to new FBS member Liberty. And Virginia Tech isn’t Liberty.
The two teams played in Blacksburg last year, a game the Hokies won 38-0.
Virginia Tech at Old Dominion
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Virginia Tech -28.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Virginia Tech offensive efficiency
The Hokies have had success both running and throwing so far this year. They are plus-6 in turnover margin and rank 14th in penalty yards per game. Quarterback Josh Jackson has done his part, completing two-thirds of his passes with three touchdowns and no picks. After an unexpected week off, in a game against a team that is not nearly their equal from a talent perspective, can the Hokies keep the ball rolling? A sloppy start wouldn’t be surprising, but Virginia Tech wants to put ODU away early so younger players can gain experience. A competitive game late in the second quarter would not please Tech coach Justin Fuente.
2. Continued development of ODU QB Steven Williams
Williams made his first career start at Virginia Tech last fall and it did not go well. The then-freshman completed just 8-of-26 passes for 85 yards with an interception. What Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder is looking for this year from his still-young quarterback is progress. If he can recognize what Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is throwing at him and maintain his poise throughout the game, the Monarchs will be happy.
3. Hokies' secondary
There haven’t been many weaknesses on that Virginia Tech defense, but the growth of the young defensive backs is something to watch. Though much of the yardage came after Tech was comfortably ahead, William & Mary did complete 18-of-30 passes on the Hokies for 232 yards. With so much personnel turnover in the secondary this year, each game is important in their development.
At home, against the big in-state power, Old Dominion will come out fired up. Then the ball will get kicked off, and reality will set in. Virginia Tech is going to put immense pressure on Williams right from the start, and whether through the air or on the ground, the Hokies will have little trouble moving the ball against an ODU team that ranks 119th in total defense and has yet to play a Power 5 opponent. Virginia Tech and Old Dominion will meet up on a pretty regular basis going forward. After Saturday, I don’t know if ODU will be thrilled at that prospect.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 51, Old Dominion 10
— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.