Good afternoon, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fans. Hope you’re enjoying another great week of ACC football. ACC football, of course, takes the center stage tonight when #3 Louisville visits #5 Clemson (it’s the third time this year that College GameDay has been in ACC country).
Flying under the radar today is a Virginia team that many folks thought was dead in the water. Virginia started out the season with a loss to FCS Richmond (who is a good team – but the Hoos have to defeat these sorts of teams to ensure that their fan base is emotionally invested). Virginia then lost on the road to Oregon by 18 points – but showed signs of improvement – but then showed sings of regression in a loss vs. UConn. I’ll admit, in Virginia’s fourth game of the season vs. Central Michigan in Charlottesville, I thought the Hoos were going to take a loss (Central Michigan defeated Oklahoma State in the first game of the season) – but Virginia came out dowsed the scoreboard with 49 points and won.
Today, Virginia defeated Duke and gave Bronco Mendenhall is first ACC Coastal game of the season; a win on the road. That’s big for the Hoos for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that the players haven’t given up on their coach (like they did when Mike London was there) – and they are fighting for Coach Mendenhall. Second, Duke, quite frankly, has owned Virginia taking six of the previous eight from the Hoos. It took Mendenhall his first game vs. Duke to get a W (which says a lot about Duke’s progression as a football program – and that you feel good about getting a W vs. Duke). This is a game I didn’t expect Virginia to win, but they got it done. Up 7 points in the fourth quarter, the Hoos survived an awful fake punt call from Bronco – and managed to squeak out a road ACC Coastal victory (Hoos helped by six Duke turnovers, too – the defense balled out today).
The victory puts the Hoos at 2-3 overall on the season – I don’t expect Virginia to win four of its next seven games to be bowl-eligible (the schedule includes Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Louisville, Wake Forest, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech), but I think you will see gradual improvement over the rest of the season. Mendenhall still has a lot of the prior London players (who quit on their coach), so he has a multi-year rebuilding job – but progress is being made in Charlottesville.