Gameday has arrived as Virginia Tech and Old Dominion are ready to face off for the first time. This game has drawn plenty of attention from across the Commonwealth, especially in the 757 where ODU is located, and the Hokies have recruited heavily.
This game means a lot to both programs as this is Old Dominion’s first opportunity to face the Commonwealth’s best program while many of the Hokies’ 757 natives get to face their area’s home program.
Saturday’s game will be watched by many across the Commonwealth as a showdown that in-state fans have been looking forward to since ODU joined FBS, especially in the 757. With that said, here’s our picks for the Hokies and Old Dominion.
Virginia Tech and Old Dominion face off for the first time in a game that has been anticipated for years now especially in the 757. Virginia Tech enters this game as heavy favorites, but know that if they get caught looking ahead to Clemson, they’ll give ODU a great opportunity to pull of a major upset.
Thing is, this team knows that and is motivated to take care of business against another in-state program.
Old Dominion has an average defense, but that is significantly better than the terrible defense the Hokies faced last week. In particular, ODU has one of the best pass rushes among Group of 5 schools and is currently tied for the national lead in sacks with Clemson with 16. However, the Hokies’ offensive line has been very good so far allowing only 3 sacks and will keep their strong start going in this game.
Josh Jackson had the best game of his career last week against East Carolina and there’s no sign of him slowing down. Jackson has built great timing with the Hokies’ receiving corps, especially Cam Phillips who has been one of America’s best receivers. Phillips leads the nation in receiving yards and is poised for another big game against an ODU secondary that has some talent, but not enough to contain the star senior wideout.
Old Dominion will be led on offense by 17-year old QB Steven Williams. This is likely the first time that a quarterback has ever started a game in Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech before they are able to vote, but is a unique situation and a monster task for Williams. Williams will be in an environment unlike any other he will face in his collegiate career (until ODU returns to VT in 2019).
This game just has the feel of a “blood in the water” type of deal for the Virginia Tech defense facing a 17-year old QB and an ODU offense that recently lost one of their top receivers for the season. In addition, Old Dominion’s running game has been poor at best with ODU averaging 3.5 yards per carry, ranking 103rd in FBS. When you have a young QB like Williams, you usually need to have some sort of running game and that is simply not the case for the Monarchs.
The matchup between the VT defense and the ODU offense is a significant mismatch that will give the Monarchs’ issues throughout the game. Expect the Hokies to force some turnovers in this game and possibly score a touchdown or two via their defense.
Old Dominion is rebuilding and while Bobby Wilder may have a team that can get back to a bowl game this year, the Monarchs don’t have the pieces to make this game that competitive. The Hokies will take care of business with 757 natives like Trevon Hill, Andrew Motuapuaka, and Deshawn McClease all having strong games against their home area’s local FBS program.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 52, Old Dominion 6
After an emphatic victory over the East Carolina Pirates in which the Hokies scored 57 unanswered points, #13 Virginia Tech looks to continue their momentum against the Old Dominion Monarchs.
This will be the third straight non-Power 5 opponent for the Hokies, and they have found success in those games so far. The Hokies beat Delaware and ECU by a combined score of 91-17, and they are hopeful to keep that domination going this week with a Primetime matchup against the defending national champions next week.
Josh Jackson has looked better and better as the season has progressed, with his best game coming last week against ECU. He tallied over 370 yards passing and 5 TD’s, and fans and writers around the country are taking notice to this freshman star. I expect him to keep this level of play up against a weaker opponent in ODU.
The biggest question mark for the Hokies last week was their (to say the least) slow start in the first quarter. The defense came out flat and allowed the Pirates to jump out to a 17-7 lead. Though the next three quarters were pure domination, the Hokies would still like to avoid another rough start against the Monarchs.
Despite not being a Power 5 team, ODU is probably the toughest opponent VT has played this season next to West Virginia. Head Coach Bobby Wilder has this program on the rise after winning 10 games last season, so don’t expect this to be as much of a cake walk as the previous two games have been.
I still expect the Tech defense to limit ODU and their 17-year old QB Steven Williams, Jr., and to have another strong offensive showing. I expect Cam Phillips to keep his historic statistical season going, and Jackson to keep showing America just how good he is, despite his young age. It will be closer than the experts think, but I still expect the Hokies to win this game by double digits and move on to an undefeated showdown with the #2 Clemson Tigers.
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 38, Old Dominion 14
The Hokies are 3-0 coming into Saturday’s matchup against Old Dominion at #13. The Monarchs are 2-1 and starting a true freshman at quarterback this week, Steven Williams Jr., who went to the same high school as Tech freshman wide receiver Sean Savoy.
The game is sold out, but the Hokies are again without cornerback Adonis Alexander, who is out indefinitely. This is the first matchup between the two programs, but they will meet more than ten times through the 2031 season.
Josh Jackson is second in the nation in touchdown passes among those who have no interceptions, two touchdowns behind Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy front-runner Baker Mayfield, who has thrown 10 touchdowns so far this season. Josh Jackson has a 61% completion rate on his passes so far this season, and he hit 77% completion rate last week against East Carolina. Jackson is 55-of-87 for 845 yards on the season so far.
Jackson will need to find an offensive rhythm against Old Dominion, and he will need help from his wide receivers, most notably Cam Phillips. Phillips leads the nation in receiving yards with 415. He had 14 catches last week against East Carolina for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think that Phillips has almost 20 catches this week, about 17 or 18 for three touchdowns again.
I hope the Tech run game can pick up, and I think it will get going with Steven Peoples, Jalen Holston, Travon McMillian, and Deshawn McClease, all sharing the ball in the backfield. ODU’s defensive line is second in the nation in sacks, but I think Wyatt Teller and the line can hold them to 2 sacks max in the game and Jackson has a field day, throwing for almost 400 yards like he did last week.
On the defensive side of the ball, things started a little shaky last weekend in Greenville, with the Hokies giving up some points early to the Pirates. I think the atmosphere will help the Hokies, and the Monarchs do not score very early so the Hokies run away with the game.
Alexander is out once again, but the Hokies will be fine. The environment will be crazy for Steven Williams Jr., and I think he will play okay but throw an interception or two and his receivers won’t be able to catch much all day. Tech linebackers will stop the run, and the Hokies won’t allow many points going into Clemson.
Tech’s special teams will dominate Old Dominion, and I think either James Clark or Greg Stroman returns a kick for a touchdown. Joey Slye will go 2/2 on field goals tomorrow, and the Hokies will turn their focus towards Clemson next weekend.
Pick: Virginia Tech 55, Old Dominion 17
Fans, its military appreciation week and the Hokies are taking on fellow Virginia college Old Dominion. The Hokies are coming off an offensive explosion last week in the thrashing of ECU. However, they face what looks to be a better team on-paper this week, but that’s only on paper.
Old Dominion, at the beginning of the season, looked to be the 3rd best team in the state behind JMU and the Hokies. That’s right UVA fans you read that right. However, injuries have ravished the Monarchs thru the fist few weeks of the season.
ODU will be starting a true freshman at quarterback, in his first start, in Lane Stadium, with a sold out crowd, you get the picture folks. This poor kid won’t know what hit him. Look for the Hokies’ defense to control this one early and sack the quarterback frequently. Don’t be surprised if some points are scored on the defensive end this week.
Offensively, the Hokies need to build on last week’s performance. How they can do that you might ask? Well for one thing spread then all around in the passing game.
Cam Phillips is leading the nation in receiving, but for the Hokies to be successful that really can’t continue to be our only receiving threat. I look for Sean Savoy and CJ Carroll to be given more opportunities to catch the ball and make plays.
Also, look for the Hokies to try to establish the run again. However, I look for one or two backs to try to distance themselves from the others in the rushing stable to create more of a one-two punch rather than a committee rushing attack.
This game should not even be close. I’m sure Coach Fuente has stressed tunnel vision this week with Clemson looming in the horizon. The Hokies will go 1-0 again this week and improve to 4-0 for the season. Final score Hokies 45 ODU 7. LETS GO HOKIES!!!!
Pick: #13 Virginia Tech 45, Old Dominion 7
For the third week in a row, the Hokies are significantly better on paper than the team they are matching up against. However, with the Clemson Tigers coming to Lane Stadium next week, this week is going to be an important one for the Hokies; in particular, for the offensive line.
Thus far, Old Dominion ranks second in the country in sacks, as they possess five players with two or more sacks on the season. This comes a season after Monarch Defensive Ends Oshane Ximines and Bunmi Rotimi combined for 14.5 sacks the previous season, so this forceful front four is not a unit to joke about.
While the Hokie offensive line has protected Josh Jackson well thus far, allowing only three sacks, they will have their hands full these next eight days. This game could be a good precursor for how Tech will match up against Clemson, the team tied with them for the national lead in sacks.
The Monarchs have struggled heavily on the other side of the ball. They are outside the top 90 in rushing offense, passing offense, scoring offense, and turnovers lost. Especially after facing the defenses Albany, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, the numbers do not look promising for the boys of Norfolk.
Last week against UNC, the ball seemed to turn into a bar of soap whenever ODU had it, as they fumbled three times and threw an interception. This lead to a quarterback change in the second half; in came Steve Williams, the youngest quarterback in college football.
Despite his little experience on the football field and in adolescence at age 17, Williams showed flashes, especially by establishing a connection with emerging WR Travis Fulgham (102 yards, TD vs UNC). With the suspension of Adonis Alexander, and with the lack of game film on Williams, it is possible that the Monarchs could surprise the Hokie defense early, as ECU did last week. Nonetheless, the Hokie defense should have no problem with this offensive unit; Tech will only give up 10-17 points, likely less than last week.
Other than the front four, the ODU defense is pedestrian at best. They rank 75th in rushing defense and 64th in pass defense. While Josh Jackson and the crew may not score at will like they did last week, they should have no problem putting points on the board. With the Monarchs facing significant injuries in the secondary, look for WR Cam Phillips to build on his 189 yard, 3 touchdown performance last week against ECU.
Still, the Maroon and Orange will need to establish the running game and find other receiving options, in order to prepare for the Tigers next Saturday. Assuming Virginia Tech is not looking ahead to next week, this game will be another blowout, and another opportunity for the Hokie offense to establish their identity.