Virginia was 12 seconds away from a signature win Saturday when Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller, having just caught a pinpoint 40-yard pass from back-up quarterback DeShone Kizer, stepped into the North End Zone at Scott Stadium to break the hearts of Cavalier fans and seal a comeback victory for the Fighting Irish.
If that pass had slipped through Fuller’s hands and Virginia had held on for those 12 seconds, we’d be having a much different conversation about UVA’s bowl prospects. As it is, our beloved Wahoos unfortunately missed out on another opportunity to pull an upset and get a leg up on their 2015 bowl run. Now Virginia finds itself where most prognosticators thought it would: 0-2 headed into Week 3.
Despite the loss, Virginia certainly played like a bowl team Saturday. That should give fans reason for hope. The remaineder of Virginia's schedule should provide a little hope, too.
Before the season, I suggested that Virginia’s bowl chances would come down to the following six games:
- William & Mary
- At Pitt
- At North Carolina
- At Miami
While I still think those six games represent Virginia’s most logical path to a bowl game, that doesn’t mean I think the path will be easy. That group is a combined 10-1 so far, and Virginia isn’t going to be overwhelmingly more talented than any of them except W&M. On the other hand, none of those wins have been against anyone of note.
Fortunately, two other games look more manageable now than they did before the season. Boise State lost in the final minutes at BYU on Saturday and fell out of the top-25. The Broncos have performed a shade below expectations so far. They were favored against BYU and lost, and they beat Washington by 3 while being favored by 12. With Virginia looking energized at home against Notre Dame, UVA’s Friday night 9/25 tilt against Boise State looks like a solid opportunity for an upset.
The Louisville Cardinals also look more beatable than they did previously. Bobby Petrino’s squad gave up 34 points and 462 yards in a loss to Houston Saturday. Petrino might also have a quarterback controversy on his hands. The Cardinals played two quarterbacks against Houston, and neither of them set the world ablaze. Louisville’s close loss to Auburn also lost its luster with the Tigers damn near losing to Jacksonville State.
Of course, the immediate task for the Cavaliers will be beating William & Mary. UVA fans will never forget the 2009 loss to the Tribe that marked the nadir of the Al Groh era. UVA turned the ball over seven times that day and looked completely lost on offense. If Virginia takes care of the ball this time, it should pick up its first win of the season. If not, the tenor of next week’s column won’t be as optimistic.