Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Despite Saturday's thrashing at the hands of Oregon, the Cavaliers still have the opportunity to right the ship and put together a solid season.
Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff (1) catches a pass in the red zone against Virginia during their game Saturday at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.
Virginia head coach Mike London has reconfigured the offensive line.
Friday, September 13, 2013
There could be worse fates for this year’s Virginia football team than to be mentioned in the same breath as the Cavaliers’ 1984 squad.
In that season’s opener, Clemson waltzed into Scott Stadium and handed Virginia a 55-0 licking that has stood as UVa’s most lopsided loss for almost 30 years. That dubious distinction appeared to be in jeopardy when No. 2 Oregon routed the Cavaliers 59-10 this past Saturday.
Given that Virginia had lost to visiting Virginia Tech 48-0 in the 1983 finale, UVa football seemingly was at its low point. Then all the Cavaliers did was go undefeated (7-0-2) over their next nine games and receive the first bowl bid in school history.
No one is predicting a turnaround on that scale for this year’s team. However, the Cavaliers don’t have nearly as far to go.
The blowout loss to Oregon came on the second Saturday of a season that started with a 19-16 victory over favored Brigham Young.
UVa’s season-opening victory looked even more impressive after BYU walloped Texas this past Saturday, 40-16.
What Virginia fan would not have taken 1-1 at this point?
Getting to 2-0 would have required the biggest upset, from a point spread standpoint, in school history.
Not that the Cavaliers couldn’t have acquitted themselves a little more respectably against the Ducks.
It was an opportunity to build credibility with a fan base whose loyalty wavered in recent years, and this year has been challenged to attend eight home games.
A crowd listed at 58,502, second-largest of the four-year Mike London coaching era, saw things get ugly early as Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ran untouched 71 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown on the fifth play of the game.
You wonder how the Cavaliers could be fooled so easily; then, two days later, you turn on Monday Night Football and see the Philadelphia Eagles do the same thing to the Washington Redskins for a half.
Maybe there’s something to this offense that Chip Kelly installed at Oregon, where he had a 46-7 record over four years before heading to the NFL. The new Ducks coach, former Kelly offensive coordinator Mark Helfich, knew better than to make many changes.
There are those who wondered if the Cavaliers, coming off their second 4-8 season in three years, needed to be playing Oregon at this point. Or, if BYU and Oregon in back-to-back weeks, was too much.
Virginia originally was scheduled to play at Penn State this season before the game was dropped to make room for Oregon. The Nittany Lions, still weighed down by the aftereffects of NCAA sanctions, were eminently more beatable and were fortunate to hold off Syracuse 23-17 in their opener at the Meadowlands.
I’m not sure I understand the rationale behind Virginia scheduling so many Pac-12 teams, other than executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver is well-connected in those parts. The Oregon series was preceded by a home-and-home series with Southern Cal, and future UVa schedules are dotted by Stanford and UCLA.
That’s a topic for another day. More timely is the matter of how Saturday’s butt-whipping will affect Virginia for the rest of the season.
In all likelihood, the players will forget it quickly. The Cavaliers have an open date Saturday before playing host to VMI next week. The Keydets beat Virginia three straight times between 1976-78 in a feat that becomes more unbelievable every time it is recounted.
In nine subsequent meetings, the gap between those FBS and FCS programs has only widened. Virginia should beat Ball State in Charlottesville, as well as visiting Duke, which was picked behind the Cavaliers in the ACC’s Coastal Division before the season.
That would match the four wins from 2010 and 2012, and there are other opportunities, the best of which might be Georgia Tech at home and Pittsburgh and Maryland on the road.
Almost as much a barometer of the program’s well-being as the wins will be the attendance.
As recently as 2007, Virginia sold 39,532 season tickets for football, its fourth straight year of between 39,000 and 40,000. By 2010, that number had dropped under 28,000.
The Cavaliers approached 30,000 in season tickets last year and actually have realized more season ticket revenue this year because of the eight-game schedule and mini-packages.
It also should be noted that BYU and Oregon travel extremely well, even across time zones.
Eventually, Virginia will have to repay those games, but not in the same year. The Cavaliers go to Provo, Utah, next year, followed by a trip to Oregon in 2016.
Who knows what the Cavaliers’ program will look like then? Who knows what the Cavaliers will look like in six weeks, but the season didn’t go down the tubes with Saturday’s debacle. History will tell you that.
Weather Journal7 wintry scenarios for Sunday