Monarchs to Play in Popeyes Bahamas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 23
By ODU Athletics
NORFOLK, Va. – Old Dominion University Football will play the first bowl game in school history in the third annual Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig announced on Monday. The game will be played on Friday, Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
“Today's announcement represents the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice and commitment. Our student-athletes have been grinding every day to improve and grow our program. Our coaching staff, led by head coach Bobby Wilder, have recruited wisely and served as great teachers to get the program to this level of success in such a relatively short period of time,” Selig said. “Our University administration starting with President John Broderick have generously provided the resources, facilities, and philosophical support needed to compete at this high level of FBS football. Our fan support for ODU football is second to none and continues to turn heads nationally with their incredible tangible support of our program. I am most impressed with the job done by our student-athletes and coaches this season and participation in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl is the perfect reward for a scrapbook season.”
The Monarchs are 9-3 overall, and finished 7-1 in Conference USA this season. ODU finished the regular season with a 42-28 victory over FIU, the 54th straight sellout since restarting the program in 2009.
“We are all thrilled to play in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. The Coaches I spoke with about the Bowl said it is a great experience for the Kids, which is what this is all about. This is an historic moment for Old Dominion University and our Football program,” ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder said.
ODU reaches a bowl game in just its eighth season of football and second full season of bowl eligibility.
The Monarchs are led by a trio of playmakers on offense in quarterback David Washington, running back Ray Lawry and wide receiver Zach Pascal. Washington is one of four FBS quarterbacks to have thrown for 25 touchdown passes and four or less interceptions. Lawry produced his second-straight 1,000 yard season and Pascal set ODU’s career record for receptions in the win over FIU.
Senior linebacker TJ Ricks leads the Monarchs with 93 tackles and Anthony Wilson adds 90 stops. Sophomore defensive end Oshane Ximines set the single-season record for sacks with 7.5.
“We are pleased that Old Dominion will be competing in the 2016 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl,” said Richard Giannini, executive director of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. “Coach Bobby Wilder and his staff have done a tremendous job in preparing the Monarchs all season long, and we look forward to hosting them in Nassau for their first bowl game.”
The Monarchs have been ineligible for postseason competition in four of eight seasons since 2009. In 2009 and 2010, ODU was not eligible for the FCS playoffs, and in 2013 and 2014, the Monarchs were not eligible for a bowl due to the NCAA transitioning rules, despite going 6-6 in 2014 and playing a full FBS schedule.
The inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in 2014 featured WKU hanging on to defeat Central Michigan 49-48, while last year Western Michigan defeated Middle Tennessee 45-31.
OFF-SITE HOTEL INFORMATION (Atlantis Paradise Island Resort is ODU Team Hotel)
Other Paradise Island Hotels (closest location to Atlantis)
Comfort Suites Paradise Island
Address: Paradise Island Drive, Nassau, Bahamas
Riu Palace Paradise Island
Address: 6307 Casino Drive, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Other Nassau Hotels:
British Colonial Hilton Nassau (Downtown)
Address: Navy Lion Road, Nassau, Bahamas
Meliá Cable Beach (Cable Beach)
Address: Nassau, Bahamas
Bobby Wilder statement on ODU’s participation in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
I am proud of everyone associated with Old Dominion Football especially our seniors. This is another in a long list of historic moments for Old Dominion Football. From our first win in our first game in 2009, going 17-5 as an FCS independent in 2009 and 2010, going 10-3 as a member of the FCS Colonial Athletic Conference and our first home playoff win, 11-2 in 2012 and a #6 National ranking in our final year of FCS football were all amazing accomplishments.
This senior class starting playing as freshmen in 2013, our transition year and lead our team to an 8-4 record. The heartbreak of the North Carolina game and the thrill of our first-ever win over an FBS team on the road at Idaho stand out from the 2013 season.
In 2014, our first year in C-USA these kids led their team to a 6-6 record, winning the final three games on the last play of the game. A home overtime win over LA Tech 30-27 was arguably our best win that year. LA Tech won the West and went 9-5 winning their bowl game. These Kids endured the heartbreak of not being allowed to play in a bowl game due to the transition rules.
2015 was a trying year for all of us. Our first losing record at 5-7, the heartbreak of missing out on a bowl game with a 33-31 loss to Florida Atlantic at home. 6 of our 7 losses were by 20 points or more, yet they never wavered from the path to success.
What happened next tells the story of our Kids, especially our seniors.
Over the course of the next eight months leading up to preseason they dedicated themselves to being the best team they could be on and off the field. The 2016 season will be remembered for the 9-3 overall record and the 7-1 record in C-USA. It will be remembered for the kids making history with a Bowl Game.
The Bowl game is historic, it is special. I will remember the young people that represented the 11 letters across their chest that say Old Dominion with class and dignity.