ODU Football Adds Four FCS Opponents to Future Schedules, Including Norfolk State and W&M
Story Links By Harry Minium
NORFOLK, Va. — Old Dominion has added four home football games against FCS schools, including competitions with Hampton Roads neighbors Norfolk State in 2026 and William & Mary in 2029.
Additionally, ODU added games with Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2023 and North Carolina Central in 2025. Texas A&M-Commerce replaces an originally scheduled home game with Buffalo on September 23, 2023. Both programs have mutually agreed to cancel the game, which will not be rescheduled.
ODU plays one of the most challenging and exciting non-conference schedules in the Group of 5 conferences, with nine games against Virginia Tech, five against East Carolina, four against Army, three against Liberty and single games with Virginia, Wake Forest , Indiana and South Carolina on the horizon over the next 11 seasons.
Bruce Stewart, assistant sporting director and chief operating officer who oversees football and football programming, said “the football landscape continues to evolve and we are trying to align our program in the most favorable light for matches. bowling and ultimately the expanded College Football Playoff.”
The CFP expands to 12 teams in 2024 and at least one Group of 5 school is guaranteed to be on the ground.
“In order to achieve our goals, we will continually evaluate our football schedules and create balance,” Stewart added.
“The Sun Belt has certainly stood out as one of the best Five-Eyes football conferences in the country. There is great parity among the 14 members and great coaching with an abundance of talent on every roster,” Stewart added.
The Sun Belt performed well against Power 5 opponents last season. ODU upset Virginia Tech at home and lost on a last-second basket to Virginia. Marshall upset Notre Dame, App State upset Texas A&M and Georgia Southern beat Nebraska, all on the road in the second week of the season.
Sun Belt Schools were also 3-1 against Army, an independent that the ACC classifies as a Power 5 school for planning purposes. Southern Miss also won at Tulane, which captured the American Athletic Conference title and upset USC in the Cotton Bowl.
Head coach Ricky Rahne said he was happy to see the four newcomers on future schedules, especially Norfolk State, whose campus is four miles from ODU.
“We’re still excited about the challenge of playing our schedule (against Power 5 schools) and the fact that we can play some of these teams at home,” he said. “But I also think it’s great for our kids to play on different teams.
“And if you look at our schedule, there have been some repeats in the non-conference schedule. Adding different schools just helps add a bit of spice.”
Rahne said playing in Norfolk State is important to the Hampton Roads community.
“When we have the opportunity to play against Virginia Tech and Virginia, it helps the whole state,” he said. “And just like that, when we play Norfolk State or William and Mary, I think it helps the region, the whole 757.”
The four games:
*Texas A&M University-Commerce completes the 2023 schedule. ODU opens at Virginia Tech on September 2 and welcomes Wake Forest on September 16. A game at Liberty originally scheduled for September 30 will be played on November 11.
Texas A&M-Commerce is a former Division II powerhouse that recently transitioned to FCS. Formerly known as East Texas State University, it changed its name to Texas A&M University-Commerce in 1996.
Last season, the Lions upset Southeast Louisiana, then ranked 19th and 20th in FCS polls, 31-28, and finished 5-6.
* North Carolina Central, the 2022 HBCU National Champions, arrives at ODU on September 6, 2025. This game rounds out the 2025 schedule as the Monarchs open at Indiana on August 30, travel to Virginia Tech on September 13 and host Liberty in October. 4.
NC Central was 10-2 last season, winning a share of the MEAC title and toppling Deion Sanders-coached Jackson State 41-34 in overtime at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Cricket Celebration Bowl. The game featured Mid-Eastern Athletic Champion (MEAC) and Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) champions.
ODU is 2-0 against Durham School.
* Norfolk State visits ODU on September 5, 2026. The Spartans have played to sold-out crowds in each of their previous three games at SB Ballard Stadium. ODU also has games scheduled at Virginia Tech on September 12 and at home against UConn on October 31. A non-conference match remains to be scheduled.
ODU is 4-0 against the Spartans, including a 24-21 win in 2019 that was the first at the expanded SB Ballard Stadium that drew a then-record crowd of 21,944.
* William & Mary, a former CAA rival, arrives at ODU on September 1, 2029. ODU is 2-1 against the tribe. The game rounds out the 2029 schedule with games at Army on September 8, East Carolina on September 15, and a home game against Virginia Tech on September 22.
Coached by former Virginia and Richmond coach Mike London, William and Mary finished 11-2 in 2022 and shared the CAA title with New Hampshire. The Tribe won their only game against an FBS opponent, defeating Charlotte, 41-24.
ODU’s full conference schedule will be announced at the end of February.
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ODU Football Schedules:
September 2, at Virginia Tech
September 16, Wake Forest
September 23, Texas A&M-Commerce
November 11, at Liberty
August 31 in South Carolina
September 7, East Carolina
September 12, Virginia Tech
September 28, at Bowling Green
August 30, in Indiana
September 6, central North Carolina
September 13, at Virginia Tech
October 4, Freedom
September 5, Norfolk State
September 12, at Virginia Tech
October 31, UConn
September 11, Virginia Tech
September 18, East Carolina
September 25 at UConn
September 2, Virginia
September 9, at Virginia Tech
September 30, at Liberty
September 1, William and Mary
September 8, to the army
Sept. 15, East Carolina
September 22, Virginia Tech
August 31, Army
September 14, East Carolina
September 21, at Virginia Tech
September 6 in East Carolina
September 13, Bowling Green
September 20, Virginia Tech
September 11, to the army
september 3, army