99 Virginia Football Thoughts Before Kickoff

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Virginia kicks off football season in fewer than 90 days.
Joe Reed sprints with the ball against Indiana. ~ Kris Wright

The upcoming schedule is always a good debate for offseason days. In fact, the “99 Virginia Football Thoughts Before Kickoff” series began with some general schedule thoughts and this question: how important is it for UVA to get off to a good start in terms of its bowl hopes? There are a lot of ways to discuss the schedule, though.

On Wednesday, 247’s Virginia site manager Jamie Oakes put a twist on it for their national site and took a look at the ACC as a whole. The concept? The “most dangerous” game for each ACC team. It’s a similar train of thought to this potential pitfalls article I wrote ahead of UVA basketball season last winter.

Anyway, Oakes broke things down here. Oakes’ most dangerous games for the other league teams follow in parantheses: Pitt (GT), GT (Duke), BC (Purdue), Wake Forest (Louisville), Syracuse (UConn), Louisville (Virginia), NC State (BC), Virginia Tech (Pitt), Miami (Georgia Tech), Clemson (NC State), Duke (Northwestern), UNC (Syracuse), and FSU (Virginia Tech). The reasons for each vary from schedule placement to game location and more so give it a click to go through each team.

As for the Hoos, the next entry in the “99 Virginia Football Thoughts Before Kickoff” series starts now …

No. 86 – Virginia’s Most Dangerous Game

In his article, Oakes pinned Ohio as the “most dangerous” game for Virginia in 2018. He rates it that way when looking at UVA’s overall bowl hopes. That game is sandwiched between the trip to Indiana and ACC opener at home against Louisville.

That take makes sense. If you’re looking at ways to get to 6-6 and bowl eligibility, the breakdown likely contains a combination that looks something like this:

  • Sweep Richmond and Liberty to get to two wins
  • Split Indiana and Ohio to get to at least three wins
  • Split the ACC home games with Louisville, Miami, UNC, and Pitt to get to at least five wins
  • Steal one more somewhere among road games with NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech to get magic No. 6

If you look at last season’s return to bowl play, that’s basically what the Cavaliers did. They swept William & Mary and UConn, split Indiana and Boise State, split home ACC games with wins against Duke and GT, and then stole a game at UNC. Anyway, that type of outlook makes the two games with Indiana and Ohio important or dangerous in this concept.

I thought it would be fun, or maybe a conversation driver at least, to look at other ways to spin the “dangerous game” line of thinking too. So if Ohio is the “most dangerous game for bowl hopes” superlative what are some others?

The most dangerous game for … ticket sales and attendance: Richmond in the opener. Bronco Mendenhall started his first season at UVA with a loss to the Spiders and that took a lot of fan enthusiasm for the new hire right out the door. If this year’s team throws up an Arachnophobia sequel, the rest of the season likely bombs at the box office.

The most dangerous game for … accessories: Miami. The turnover chain became a thing last year for the Hurricanes, but the Hoos had control of a potential upset at then No. 2 Miami early in the second half. An early 14-0 lead evaporated in part due to a fumble that set up a touchdown for the hosts. Still, the visitors had taken a 28-14 lead in the first three minutes of the second half thanks to a Kurt Benkert-Daniel Hamm touchdown pass combo, but less than 2:30 of game time later, the Canes had tied the game with an interception return for touchdown. The turnover chain got plenty of air time and the upset hopes fell away thanks to those turnovers.

The most dangerous game for … apathy: Liberty. The third of three straight home games at the end of October and the beginning of November, this game might not get much attention from fans as the Flames begin their move up to FBS (they’ll play a full FBS schedule in 2019, but begin the move this coming season). This SB Nation preview of Liberty gives it a 22% win probability in the game at Scott Stadium. In other words, if there is a game to skip among a three-game homestand, this is one fans might pick. The one thing working the opposite direction is that this game serves as Senior Day and the final home game of 2018 so that might bring some fans to town. If UVA enters this game in need of a win for bowl hopes, that could help too. If it is already out of the bowl picture or teetering on the brink with road games at GT and VT to wrap up, that will only add to any apathy for this particular game.

The most dangerous game for … old-time fans: North Carolina. The Cavaliers won 14 straight home games against the Tar Heels at Scott Stadium from 1983 to 2008. Older UVA fans often view Carolina as the school’s traditional rival and the recent scandal in Chapel Hill only furthered some of that disdain. The problem is that the Heels have won four straight in Charlottesville dating back to the 2010 streak buster.

The most dangerous game for … fan sanity: Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers have lost 14 straight games to the Hokies, including last fall’s 10-0 snoozer. As I wrote last fall this game “for fans at least, is the ultimate barometer for the program.” It’s crazy frustrating for Hoo fans to keep losing in this matchup.

So what about you? Do you have some “most dangerous” superlatives for this year’s schedule? Share it on the message boards!

So far, the “99 Virginia Football Thoughts Before Kickoff” series has looked Jordan Mack, Jordan Ellis, and more. The previous articles are below. Click away.

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