Who: The Citadel (1-2) at Old Dominion (1-2)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ballard Stadium (20,068), Norfolk, Va.
Sagarin Says: ODU by 13.5
What to know about Old Dominion: ODU, a school of some 24,000 students in Norfolk, Va., re-started its football program in 2009 after it had been dormant for almost 90 years. The Monarchs hired Bobby Wilder, an assistant at Maine, as their head coach and have gone 9-2, 8-3, 10-3 and 11-2 in their first four seasons. The last two years, ODU has faced Georgia Southern in the FCS playoffs, losing by 55-48 in 2011 and by 49-35 last year. QB Taylor Heinicke, a junior from Atlanta, won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in FCS last season. ODU is an FCS independent this season, ineligible for the playoffs as they prepare to join FBS Conference USA next season. Famous ODU alums: NASCAR crew chief Bootie Barker, women’s basketball player Nancy Lieberman, former Clemson hoops coach Oliver Purnell, Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.
All-time series: First meeting. The Citadel was scheduled to play East Carolina this season, but ODU arranged a deal where it would play ECU and the Bulldogs would go to ODU instead. The Citadel will earn $250,000 for the game.
Citadel coaches are worried about: QB Taylor Heinicke and his fleet of receivers. Junior Larry Pinkard has 18 catches and two TDs, and 6-2 junior Ben Roberts has 11 catches and three TDs. Heinicke also can run the ball — he’s the Monarchs’ No. 2 rusher — and 6-8, 328-pound guard David Born and 6-6, 330-pound tackle DJ Morrell lead a huge offensive line.
Emotional edge: The Bulldogs really have nothing to lose in this non-conference game at ODU, and a $250,000 guarantee check to gain. Would not surprise me if The Citadel defense came out blitzing, using their quickness on the edge (DE Mark Thomas) to get around ODU’s huge linemen and pressure Heinicke. The Bulldogs also need a few more of that 19-play drive at WCU to keep the ball out of Heinicke’s hands. ODU, meanwhile, has an eye on next year’s move to Conference USA and seems to be pointing toward its games against FBS foes. Witness this quote from Heinicke after last week’s 76-19 win over Howard:
“Now, hopefully we can win the next three games in a row, have a good bye week, and go up to Pittsburgh (Oct. 19) and put on a good show.”