Virginia Leads The Coastal Heading Into An Important Month Of October

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The University of Virginia football program was back at practice Friday (October 4) preparing for next Friday’s road conference matchup with the Miami Hurricanes. The Hoos, who are on a bye following their first loss of the 2019 season, have their sights set on a Coastal Division championship and a berth in the 2019 ACC Championship game.

Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins dances in for a key 2-point conversion in a win over Florida State. Thanks to this victory, UVA holds a half-game lead over Duke in the ACC’s Coastal Division heading into an important month of October. ~ Photo by Kris Wright of TheSabre.com

UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall said on his weekly radio show this week that he feels “fortunate” for the bye week to be coming when it is – off a shaky – to put it mildly – second-half effort from the offense last Saturday at Notre Dame. The off-week gives Cavalier players time to heal and the coaches time to reflect and reset for the final seven regular season games. Six of Virginia’s final seven games will be conference matchups, including five consecutive ACC tilts beginning with the matchup in Miami.

UVA, the preseason pick by media to win the Coastal Division this season, is off to a great start in ACC play thanks to a season opening victory at Pittsburgh and a home win over Florida State. Heading into this weekend the ACC Coastal Division standings are as follows:

1. Virginia (2-0)
2. Duke (1-0)
3. North Carolina (1-1)
4. Pittsburgh (0-1)
5. Miami (0-1)
6. Georgia Tech (0-1)
7. Virginia Tech (0-2)

The schedule sets up well for the Hoos. While Miami will have a short week to prepare for the Cavaliers, Mendenhall’s group has the bye prior to heading to south Florida. The Friday night game also gives Virginia some extra time before its October 19 matchup with Duke, which is looking like a division title contender after throttling Virginia Tech in Blacksburg last Friday. Coach Mendenhall has owned the Blue Devils in his tenure; however, this season’s matchup may be the toughest.

After Miami, three of UVA’s final five conference games are at home. The road games are very winnable matchups against Louisville (October 26) and UNC (November 3), but Virginia has won just five true road contests in Mendenhall’s 4-plus years on the job. The Cavaliers close conference play with Georgia Tech at home on November 9 and Virginia Tech at home on November 29.

While the Cavaliers are off this week, there are plenty of divisional implications in this weekend’s games. Duke, whose only loss was to Alabama in the season opener, hosts defending Coastal Division champ Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils are aiming to join Virginia on top of the Coastal at 2-0. Pittsburgh on the other hand is trying not to start conference play 0-2 with both losses coming to upper echelon Coastal opponents.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech travels to Miami on Saturday in a very important early October contest. A loss sends Tech to 0-3 in conference play, a start that would be very difficult for the Hokies to come back from even in the crazy Coastal. A win, though, gives Tech some hope moving forward. The game is important for Miami as well, as the Hurricanes lone conference game so far was a loss to Coastal Division rival UNC. A loss puts the Canes at 0-2 with both losses coming to two Coastal foes. A win sets up a showdown with Virginia next Friday.

In addition to VT/Miami and Pitt/Duke, North Carolina travels to Georgia Tech for another Coastal matchup on Saturday. Georgia Tech has looked awful in the past several weeks, losing 24-2 to Temple last week and losing at home to The Citadel. UNC has surprised this season, beating Miami at home and coming within a 2-point conversion of possibly downing no. 1 Clemson last weekend. Head coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels are 2-3 overall but 1-1 in the conference. They should move to 2-1 after this weekend.

Remaining Conference Schedules For The Seven Coastal Division Teams

VIRGINIA (4-1 overall, 2-0 in the ACC)

– @Miami (10/11)
– DUKE (10/19)
– @Louisville (10/26)
– @North Carolina (11/2)
– GEORGIA TECH (11/9)
– VIRGINIA TECH (11/29)

Virginia has a great chance to seize control of the Coastal with wins over Miami and Duke. Of course four games would still remain, but the Hoos would be in strong shape with a 4-0 conference start. Currently, none of UVA’s final four conference opponents have a winning record overall.

DUKE (3-1 overall, 1-0 in the ACC)

– PITTSBURGH (10/5)
– GEORGIA TECH (10/12)
– @Virginia (10/19)
– @North Carolina (10/26)
– SYRACUSE (11/16)
– @Wake Forest (11/23)
– MIAMI (11/30)

The Blue Devils have impressed thus far. It’ll be interesting to see how they navigate a solid Pitt squad after the surprising blowout at Tech.

UNC (2-3 overall, 1-1 in the ACC)

– @Georgia Tech (10/5)
– @Virginia Tech (10/19)
– DUKE (10/26)
– VIRGINIA (11/2)
– @Pittsburgh (11/14)
– @NC State (11/30)

The Tar Heels have very winnable games coming up before a tough home stretch versus Duke and Virginia and two road contest to finish conference play.

PITTSBURGH (3-2 overall, 0-1 in the ACC)

– @Duke (10/5)
– @Syracuse (10/18)
– MIAMI (10/26)
– @Georgia Tech (11/2)
– NORTH CAROLINA (11/14)
– @Virginia Tech (11/23)
– BOSTON COLLEGE (11/30)

The next three weeks are huge for the Panthers, who are looking to rebound from the season opening loss to UVA.

MIAMI (2-2 overall, 0-1 in the ACC)

– VIRGINIA TECH (10/5)
– VIRGINIA (10/11)
– GEORGIA TECH (10/19)
– @Pittsburgh (10/26)
– @Florida State (11/2)
– LOUISVILLE (11/9)
– @Duke (11/30)

A big two weeks for Miami against the ACC’s Virginia teams. As mentioned above, Miami and Virginia Tech is an important early conference game as Miami could fall to 0-2 and Tech could drop to 0-3.

GEORGIA TECH (1-3 overall, 0-1 in the ACC)

– NORTH CAROLINA (10/5)
– @Duke (10/12)
– @Miami (10/19)
– PITTSBURGH (11/2)
– @Virginia (11/9)
– VIRGINIA TECH (11/16)
– NC STATE (11/21)

Georgia Tech is undergoing major transition this season and shouldn’t be a factor in any of its final conference games. I like Geoff Collins, but the transition from the Paul Johnson era appears too much to overcome this year.

VIRGINIA TECH (2-2 overall, 0-2 in the ACC)

– @Miami (10/5)
– NORTH CAROLINA (10/19)
– WAKE FOREST (11/9)
– @Georgia Tech (11/16)
– PITTSBURGH (11/23)
– @Virginia (11/29)

This feels like a must-win for Tech this weekend. You never know in the Coastal, but the Hokies would have a huge hill to climb to get back in the division race if they lose this weekend.

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