The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 26th, 1:34 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium (19,818) -- Norfolk, Virginia. Surface: Astrotuf GameDay Grass 3D. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Jim Barbar and Jay Walker. Home Record: Norfolk State 4-1; Old Dominion 5-1. Away Record: Norfolk State 5-1; Old Dominion 4-1. Series Record: First Meeting. Conference: Norfolk State - Mid-Eastern Athletic; Old Dominion - Colonial Athletic Association. Nicknames: Norfolk State Spartans; Old Dominion Monarchs. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: Norfolk State (19); Old Dominion (10). Head Coaches: Norfolk State - Pete Adrian (7th season, 43-35 at Norfolk State, 79-72-1 Overall); Old Dominion - Bobby Wilder (3rd season, 26-7 at Old Dominion and Overall). Playoff Records: Norfolk State (0-0); Old Dominion (0-0). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Norfolk State 0; Old Dominion 0.
GAME NOTES: Norfolk State and Old Dominion weren't supposed to start a cross- city series until 2013, but the NCAA selection committee decided to pair up the Norfolk-based programs for a first meeting that will be about more than bragging rights. In just its third season, Old Dominion is the hottest ticket in town and has sold out all 20 home games, and the streak should reach 21 on Saturday.
Old Dominion starting quarterback and senior Thomas DeMarco went down with an injury in Week 5, opening the door for freshman Taylor Heinicke. After assuming the starting role, and holding it after DeMarco returned from injury, Heinicke has posted a 5-1 record as a starter and shown incredible poise, passing for 15 touchdowns against only one interception.
Norfolk State quarterback Chris Walley is more mobile and runs more than Heinicke, but has shown similar decision-making skills in passing for 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Xavier Boyce (65.91 ypg) and Victor Hairston (43.9 ypg) are a pair of reliable targets, who have combined for 10 touchdowns. The Spartans also have a reliable kicking game with Ryan Estep, who is nearly automatic under 40 yards (20 of 21), and Everett Goldberg, who has a bigger leg and attempts long field goals (5 of 8 from 40-plus).
CAA Defensive Player of the Year Ronnie Cameron is the leader of Old Dominion's defensive line, a unit that led the conference in tackles for a loss (83) and is 10th in the FCS for sacks (34). Norfolk State's defensive line is just as impressive, topping Old Dominion's tackles for a loss (94) and bagging the same amount of sacks. The Spartans also are the third-ranked total defense (266 ypg) and fourth-ranked scoring defense (15.45 ppg) in the FCS.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Old Dominion 27, Norfolk State 17.
11/23 14:22:46 ET