FACTS & STATS: Site: S.B. Ballard Stadium (20,118) — Norfolk, Virginia.
Television: FCS. Home Record: LA Tech 3-1, ODU 3-2. Away Record: LA Tech 4-2,
ODU 1-4. Neutral Record: LA Tech 0-0, ODU 0-0. Conference Record: LA Tech 6-0,
ODU 2-4. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Old Dominion Monarchs will play their final home game of the
season on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to
S.B. Ballard Stadium for a Conference USA clash.
Louisiana Tech is already bowl eligible at 7-3 overall, and at 6-0 in C-USA,
it sits alone in first place of the West Division with just two regular-season
games remaining. The Bulldogs have reeled off five straight victories, all in
conference play, with their most recent win coming at UAB on Nov. 8, 40-24.
ODU has had a predictably up-and-down campaign in its first season as an FBS
member, winning four of its 10 games overall while going 2-4 in league play.
The Monarchs recently snapped out of a five-game losing streak by claiming a
last-second 38-35 home win over FIU on Nov. 8.
This marks the first-ever meeting between the newly formed conference rivals.
The Bulldogs’ offense amasses just shy of 400 yards per game and has been
known to put up points in bunches (36.2 ppg). With a 40-point effort against
UAB the last time out, the unit has scored 40 or more in five of its seven
Kenneth Dixon acts as the centerpiece of the offense out of the backfield.
After scoring three times on the ground last week, he now sits with 14 rushing
touchdowns and 837 yards on 180 carries. He’s also a reliable receiver with 22
catches for 274 yards and five more scores.
Cody Sokol has been a bit inconsistent under center (.593 completion
percentage, 10 INTs), but he’s made up for it by passing for 251.3 ypg and
accounting for 26 touchdowns.
Trent Taylor is Sokol’s go-to option out wide, as he leads the team in
receptions (49), yards (596) and touchdowns (six). While Taylor is clearly the
best of the bunch, the receiving corps is deep with five others registering at
least 19 catches, 274 yards and multiple scores.
Louisiana Tech’s defense has been more than good enough to support an
explosive offense, as it yields just 24.1 ppg and 342.9 ypg while forcing 28
turnovers (tied for second in FBS).
Xavier Woods has five interceptions, with returns adding up to 161 yards, to
go with 43 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Terrell Pinson
(46 tackles, 7.0 TFL) is also active in the turnover battle with two picks,
two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Kentrell Brice (64 tackles, 3.0
sacks, INT, four FF) and Tony Johnson (60 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, two FF)
have racked up the stops.
Generating offense has not been an issue for ODU this season, as it puts up
33.1 ppg and 442.0 ypg. The unit had 525 yards against FIU its last time out
and scored 10 points in the final 1:05 to capture the come-from-behind
Taylor Heinicke is one of the league’s most prolific passers. He has completed
greater than 62 percent of his throws for 2,892 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11
interceptions while also adding a pair of rushing scores. With 315 yards
against FIU, he has at least 300 yards passing in four of the last seven
Antonio Vaughan is a tremendous deep threat for Heinicke, racking up 883 yards
and 11 touchdowns on 48 receptions (18.4 ypc). Zach Pascal (49 receptions, 642
yards, six TDs) and David Washington (32 receptions, 423 yards, two TDs) are
also in the midst of strong seasons.
Ray Lawry (99 carries, 705 yards) and Gerard Johnson (97 carries, 487 yards)
have split work evenly in the backfield, but while Johnson has just one
touchdown, Lawry has piled up 14 scores, with nine of those coming in the last
ODU’s downfall has come on the defensive side of the ball, as it allows 476.0
ypg and ranks in the bottom-10 nationally in scoring defense (40.1 ppg).
D.J. Simon is the top defensive playmaker with 79 tackles, 8.5 TFL, a sack and
two forced fumbles. Fellonte Misher has also impressed with 70 tackles, two
interceptions and a forced fumble.
ODU has the offensive attack to potentially keep pace with Louisiana Tech in
this one, but unfortunately its porous defense has almost no chance of keeping
the Bulldogs in check.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 51, Old Dominion 30