Calling on the Commonwealth: UVA, ODU football see value in in-state, non-league date

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall of the Virginia Cavaliers. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Saturday, at one of the most historic campuses in the Commonwealth, we’ll see some history.

For the first time ever, Virginia and Old Dominion will meet on the football field.

“They’re a good team,” UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall said of ODU. “I think Coach Wilder does a really good job. The schematics offensively are very sound. Same on defense, same on special teams; and the personnel is strong.”

ODU head coach Bobby Wilder is well-aware UVA, the No. 21 ranked team in the country, is talented. However, when this three-game series between the Monarchs and Cavaliers was established, that wasn’t the case.

Quarterback Stone Smartt #4 of the Old Dominion Monarchs. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)

“I was really hoping when we scheduled this game three years ago that they wouldn’t be this good if I’m being 100% truthful,” Wilder said smiling. “But they are a really good football team. They’ve done a really good job, and you’ve got to give Bronco [Mendenhall] a lot of credit because he changed who they were. Their identity is completely different than the way UVA used to be as a football team. They’re really built in his mold.”

For the Wahoos, 3-and-0 this season, each of their non-conference games with the exception of Notre Dame – a program required to play five ACC teams each year, will be against in-state foes.

Earlier this month, UVA defeated William & Mary. In November, the ‘Hoos host Liberty. And, of course, Virginia ends its season with a conference tilt vs. arch rival Virginia Tech.

Bryce Perkins #3 of the Virginia Cavaliers. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

“I like the idea of in-state, close, regional, because of the intrigue,” Mendenhall explained. “If I have my choice to travel across the country to play Oregon or stay in-state, I would much rather stay in-state. The ACC is hard enough. There is enough travel. Academically UVA is an amazing challenge and opportunity. I think that’s the right decision for the University of Virginia at this point. I would like to continue with that philosophy in place knowing that we won’t be able to execute it perfectly, but I think it’s a natural fit for — yeah, Virginia Tech has already grasped the same idea.

There are 10 Division I football teams in the Commonwealth of Virginia and after Saturday UVA will have faced seven of them. As for ODU, the Monarchs will have now faced all three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in Virginia.

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