August 30 will be a red-letter day for the Old Dominion Monarchs. When they step onto Foreman Field to take on the Hampton Pirates (part of the MEAC in FCS), they'll do so not as an FCS independent, but as a member of FBS and Conference USA. Sure, they won't be postseason eligible until 2016, but the very fact that the team will be competing at the highest classification of collegiate football will still remain.
How do the Pirates match up with the Monarchs? Looking at both team's history would suggest that the answer is "not very well". Hampton's combined record in 2012 and 2013 is a combined 7-15, a far cry from a squad that has traditionally been a MEAC and national power. Consider that the Pirates, in a stretch ranging from 2004-2006, went an outstanding 31-5. Their record since? 37-40. The Monarchs, on the other hand, have gone 46-15 in their program's six-year history.
Offensively, the Pirates return their two quarterbacks, Bryan Bailey and Jaylian Williamson, who threw for 1,807 and 14 touchdowns combined in 2013. Twarn Mixson (22 catches, 408 yards, 5 TDs) and Jorrian Washington (32 catches, 225 yards, 2 TDs) are the top receiving threats that are back, with Washington (115 carries, 699 yards, 2 TDs) leading the way in rushing despite not getting any carries in the first five contests. (Washington was also utilized on special teams, averaging 23.53 yards on 13 kick returns.)
On the other side of the ball, the Pirates boast a talented defensive end named Miles Grooms, who racked up a team-leading 9.5 sacks and 18.5 TFLs a year ago, along with Joshua Thorne and his 12.5 TFLs. And it's a good thing they're back, too; Hampton graduated three of its top four tacklers, meaning that there are some big holes to fill on D.
So that's what the Monarchs have to look forward to in week one. The following week brings a trip to Carter-Finley Stadium to take on the N.C. State Wolfpack, who were nearly upset at home by a then-nationally ranked FCS opponent in Richmond amidst a 3-8 season.