Norfolk St Old Dominion Football Kornblau Field at SB Ballard Stadium

Old Dominion runs onto the field for an NCAA college football game against Norfolk State at renovated S.B. Ballard Stadium earlier this year. The Monarchs will play on Saturday at Virginia.

It wasn't too long ago that three of the teams on Virginia's current football schedule did not belong to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

This year, Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall couldn't be happier that two of those teams, Old Dominion and Liberty, have moved up to FBS and offer an opportunity for victories that would help the Cavaliers qualify for bowl eligibility.

Old Dominion, which only revived its long-dormant football program in the mid-2000s and was first a member of the FCS-affiliated CAA, Began its two-year transition to FBS in 2013 and became a full member of Conference USA in 2015. The Monarchs visit Virginia for the first time at 7 p.m. Saturday at Scott Stadium.

Liberty, currently an FBS independent that hopes to eventually find a conference to join, dropped a 45-24 decision last year in its first trip to Charlottesville. The Flames are slated to return to Charlottesville for a Nov. 23 date with the Cavaliers.

"If I have my choice to travel across the country to play Oregon or stay in-state, I would much rather stay in state," Mendenhall, whose 2016 team went to Oregon, said earlier this week.

"The ACC is hard enough. There is enough travel. I think it'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.

"Virginia Tech has already grasped the idea."

The Hokies played Old Dominion in each of the past two seasons, losing 49-35 to the Monarchs in Norfolk last year before exacting some measure of payback with a 31-17 victory this year in Blacksburg.

Virginia actually will play four in-state teams, including the Hokies and William and Mary, an FCS team that UVa defeated 52-17 at Scott Stadium two weeks ago.

Tech plays UVa in Charlottesville in the regular-season finale on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

"I was not involved in the ODU scheduling," Mendenhall said. "That happened right as I arrived, if I remember. I didn't realize the significance or know much about the state — or ODU — at the time.

"Man, the quality of teams that are close! It just makes sense and I think it does for all parties."

Mendenhall certainly can't complain, given that all four of UVa's games against in-state competition will be at home this year.

On the other hand, following this week's action, four of the Cavaliers' next five games will be on the road, starting with an excursion to Notre Dame next week, followed by a trip to Miami.

Doug Doughty is in his 44th year at the Roanoke Times, having produced an estimated 10,000 by-lines, a majority of them on University of Virginia athletics.

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