The School: Old Dominion University
Record: 3-5 (1-4 C-USA). 8-4 in 2013 against a mixed FBS/FCS schedule.
Ranking: Old Dominion is ranked 114th in the Real Time RPI (five spots behind Vandy, who dropped from 98th to 109th this week) and are ranked 103rd in Warren Nolan's rankings (Vanderbilt is 114th). Uh oh.
Mascot: Monarchs. LIKE THE BUTTERFLY? No, unfortunately. Not like the butterfly. And not this guy, either:
Location: Norfolk, VA. Due to their close proximity to the nation's largest Naval base, the Monarchs are expected to be the first team to hold a home football game on an aircraft carrier. It will not end well.
Conference: Conference-USA. The Monarchs skipped the "new to FBS" hierarchy and blew past the Sun Belt en route to C-USA, which is basically just the old Sun Belt.
All-Time vs. Vanderbilt: 0-0. Here's to new rivalries that should not be rivalries (see Massachusetts, the University of for more info).
In the past 10 years vs. Vanderbilt: 0-0
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: This only happened in a parallel universe. Vandy won 82-0 as Larry Smith rolled on to his second straight Heisman on Earth Y374.
Is Vanderbilt Favored?: Yes! By 7.5 points! However, keep in mind that Vandy was favored to beat UMass and Charleston Southern by 20+ points each and won those games by a total of four.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Taylor Heinicke. This senior quarterback can light up the scoreboard with big numbers. He threw for more than 900 total yards in games against Rice and Western Kentucky. He also throws a lot of interceptions (1.25 per game) - but so did Maty Mauk, and the Commodores couldn't capitalize on that. Marshall was able to shut him down in a rout four weeks ago - can a growing Vandy secondary do the same this weekend?
Most Potent Defensive Threat: D.J. Simon. Simon looks every bit the part of a FBS middle linebacker at 6'0" and 222 stocky pounds, but he can move thanks to his background as a junior college safety. He's currently leading the Monarchs in both tackles and tackles for loss, so expect him to get past Vanderbilt's embattled offensive line and into the backfield to cause some headaches in Nashville.
Matchup to Watch: Derek Mason vs. the spread. Vanderbilt has now been favored in all four of their non-conference games. They have yet to cover in a single one. Now, bettors have tempered their expectations to the point where Vandy is getting barely more than a touchdown against the Monarchs. That still may not be enough for this team to cover the spread and put a proper beating on their Conference-USA foes.
Interesting Fact: This is Old Dominion's first true year of FBS play. Following Vanderbilt's lead with UMass, Vandy AD David Williams promptly locked them into a 40-year home-and-home series with the Commodores. That series will be terminated if Vandy loses on Saturday.
Bonus Fact!: "Parking lots for ODU games will be open four hours in advance of kickoff."
This was interesting enough to be included in HamptonRoads.com's 100 Facts About ODU Football back in 2009. Sometimes, it's okay not to shoot for the stars. 10 facts probably would have sufficed.
If ODU wins, we: fire someone. This is America, dammit. We gave up losing to Monarchs in the 1700s.