Virginia’s heartbreaking loss to UConn dropped its record to 0-3 on the season and poured another pail of cold water on any flickering bowl hopes. But college football don’t end after three weeks. And despite the poor start, Virginia’s play on the field continues to improve. So with over two months of football left to play, how many wins can Cavalier fans hope for this season?
Well, let’s start with the bad news. Richmond and Connecticut were two of the easiest games on UVA’s schedule. Every opponent the rest of the way will be better than those two, including the Central Michigan squad that comes to Charlottesville this weekend. If Bronco Mendenhall’s players want to win, they’ll have to do so against tougher teams.
Here are the current Sagarin ratings for UVA’s 2016 opponents. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of fluff left on the schedule.
#4 – Louisville
#17 – Miami
#30 – North Carolina
#32 – Virginia Tech
#36 – Oregon
#39 – Georgia Tech
#42 – Pittsburgh
#65 – Central Michigan
#68 – Duke
#73 – Wake Forest
#90 – Virginia
#95 – Connecticut
#110 - Richmond
To make matters worse, none of Virginia’s ACC home opponents have shown much weakness so far. The quartet of Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh has only lost two games total: to Georgia in the Georgia Dome and Oklahoma State on the road. Neither of those losses raise any eyebrows. Virginia’s road woes dating back to 2012 are well-documented, especially after the UConn loss. But with a tough home schedule, UVA might need to find some road magic to get in the win column.
There is some good news, however. Virginia’s next three games are against three of its easiest remaining opponents, according to Sagarin. That gives Mendenhall’s squad a prime opportunity to build momentum and break through soon.
The Chippewas, led by quarterback Cooper Rush, could be a tough matchup for Virginia’s secondary. But Virginia’s defense showed some mettle against UConn, so there’s some reason for hope. Duke continues to look beatable without its returning starting quarterback Thomas Sirk, who suffered an Achilles injury. The Blue Devils lost at home at Wake and will likely be riding a three-game losing streak when UVA visits on October 8. Pittsburgh has been solid so far, but the Panthers don’t strike me as “spectacular” just yet. Virginia’s best shot at a home ACC victory may come against Pat Narduzzi’s squad.
Sooner or later, the stars will align for the Cavaliers. It’s just a matter of time.