HEAD TO HEAD: VANDERBILT VS. OLD DOMINION

Vanderbilt meets Old Dominion on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. VandyMania.com's Don Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

Vanderbilt PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
OLD DOMINION PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Vanderbilt ranks 115th nationally in passing offense, gaining 164.4 yards per game. Johnny McCrary and Patton Robinette are slated to see action at quarterback against Old Dominion with McCrary slated to start. Last week against Missouri McCrary completed 17-of-31 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Patton Robinette is the most experienced of the Vandy quarterbacks. He's connected on 23-of-32 passes for 240 yards, two TDs and no picks. Tight End Steven Scheu is the Commodores top receiver. He's caught 25 passes for 350 yards and a TD. C.J. Duncan (21 rec., 350 yards, 3 TDs) and Latevius Rayford (16 rec., 147 yards) are the 'Dores other two top receivers. Through eight games Vanderbilt blockers have allowed 15 sacks.

Old Dominion is allowing opponents 481 yards per game on average, 249 yards of that is coming via the passing game. The NCAA doesn't rank ODU statistically because they are a transitional team, however, if they did the ODU would rank about 114th nationally in total defense. Last week at WKU Old Dominion allowed the Hilltoppers 371 passing yards on 23-of-26 completions. ODU, like Vandy, has only three interceptions this season; two of those have come from strong safety Christian Byrum. Junior defense end Poncho Barnwell leads the team in sacks with 3 1/2.

VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
OLD DOMINION RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: Vandy also ranks 115th in the nation in running the ball gaining 102 yards a game on average on the ground. Last week at Missouri Vanderbilt had its worst rushing game of the season when the Commodores gained just 44 yards. Ralph Webb had 44 of those yards and has rushed for 594 so far this season (4.3 YPC). Jerron Symour (120 yards, 5.0 YPC) and big Dallas Rivers (114 yards, 4.0 YPC) are the 'Dores other two top ground gainers.

The Monarchs are allowing opponents 232 yards a game on the ground (5.0 YPC). ODU opened the season allowing just nine yards rushing to Hampton. However, since then they have been mostly run over on the ground. Marshall gained 354 yards three weeks ago and UTEP 334 the following week. Senior middle linebacker D.J. Simon leads the Monarchs in tackles with 58 stops. Safety Fellonte Misher has 56 tackles.

OLD DOMINION PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: OLD DOMINION
REMARKS: ODU has a strong offense that uses uses both the pass (297 attempts) and run (254 attempts). The Monarchs gain 290 yards a game on average through the air. On Saturday, about 50 miles north of Nashville, the Monarchs gained 471 passing yards in a 66-51 loss to Western Kentucky. Senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke is the motor behind the Old Dominion offensive machine. He has 187 completions in 296 attempts for 2,286 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Last season as a junior Heinicke became one of a group of 18 players all-time that have passed for 10,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards. Wide receiver Antonio Vaughan is a big, strong receiver who has 37 receptions for 653 yards and nine TDs. Zach Pascal (40 rec.) and David Washington (25 rec.) are two other key receivers for ODU.

The Commodores rank 59th in the FBS in passing defense allowing 225 yards per game. At Missouri last week the Commodores allowed just 141 yards through the air but did give up two TDs. Safety Oren Burks returned to the lineup against Missouri and played well. He has six passes defended this season. Cornerback Torren McGaster has five defended passes. The Commodores have 12 sacks so far this season.

OLD DOMINION RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Old Dominion gains 155 yards per game on the ground. On Saturday against WKU the Monarchs gained 172 yards (5.1 YPC) in the loss to Western Kentucky. Freshman Ray Lawry is the top ground gainer for the Monarchs with 551 yards on 74 carries and 11 TDs (7.4 YPC). In his first career start he had 25 carries for 148 yards and four TDs versus WKU. Gerard Johnson has 461 yards on 92 carries with one TD.

The Commodores rank 89th nationally in rushing defense allowing 187 yards per game on average. Last week at Missouri the Commodores allowed 244 yards (5.3 YPC) on the ground. Middle linebacker Nigel Bowden leads the Commodore defenders with 65 stops including 32 solos. Cornerback Torren McGaster is second with 44 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Colby Cooke averages 42.8 yards per punt. He has a long boot of 68 yards and has placed 15 punts downed inside opponent's 20s. Tommy Openshaw has been solid this season making 6-of-8 field goals with a long of 42 yards. Darrius Sims averages almost 31 yards per kick return. Against South Carolina several week ago he returned two kickoffs for TDs but now no one kicks to him. Trey Ellis (5.2 YPR) and Sims (5.2 YPR) share punt return duties. Vandy has had both a field goal and punt blocked this season but have blocked a punt and kick themselves.

Old Dominion's Jarrett Cervi has connected on 2-of-3 field goals this season. He had a season long 41-yarder against WKU. ODU has missed two PATs this season but they have attempted three times as many as the 'Dores. Cervi also punts and averages 40.3 yards with a long of 54 yards. The quarterback, Heinicke, also punts and has averaged 47 yards on 11 attempts with a long of 66 yards. Antonio Vaughan averages 13.7 yards per punt return with a long return of 46 yards. Cam Boyd averages 17 yards per kickoff return, with a long of 28 yards.

COACHING
EDGE: OLD DOMINION
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Derek Mason is in his first season as a head coach and has led the 'Dores to an 2-6 record. His team is slowly improving and he seems to be learning as he goes. He won his first college victory against UMass earlier in the season. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, after directing a defense that ranks among the best in the nation and finest in Stanford history. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.

Bobby Wilder is in his sixth season at Old Dominion. Old Dominion didn't even have a football program in 2007. He has guided the team from a startup FCS team to an FBS school that is now a member of the Conference USA. His 49-19 record throughout these projects speaks for itself.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Old Dominion is tied for second in the nation in fewest penalties per game with Michigan at just 3.29 per game. Vandy ranks 112th nationally in turnover margin at -0.88. The 'Dores rank 109th in red zone defense and 79th in red zone offense. Old Dominion ranks eighth in the Conference USA in red zone offense and 7th in red zone defense. ODU ranks eighth in its conference in turnover margin at an even 0.00.

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 34, Old Dominion 20.

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