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Preseason Bowl Watch: Can Virginia Go Bowling In 2017?

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A favorable schedule will certainly help.

NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The official Streaking The Lawn “Bowl Watch” is back for another season. Over the next weeks and months, I’ll monitor Virginia’s bowl game chances to let you know how the Hoos are tracking. I’ll run this column every week until one of three things happens:

  1. Virginia makes a bowl game and learns its destination and opponent.
  2. Virginia is eliminated from bowl contention.
  3. The season goes so poorly that I give up hope. This happened in October each of the last two seasons. This year I sincerely hope to keep the column running at least through November 1...but I make no promises.

With the season starting Saturday, here’s how Virginia stacks up against its schedule in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ ratings:

  • at Louisville - 14
  • at Miami - 18
  • VaTech - 24
  • Georgia Tech - 28
  • at Boise State - 31
  • at Pittsburgh - 36
  • at North Carolina - 37
  • Indiana - 41
  • Duke - 63
  • Virginia - 71
  • Boston College - 75
  • Connecticut - 124
  • William and Mary - 166 (I used the Sagarin Rating here because there isn’t an S&P+ rating for W&M.)

Analysis:

For now, let’s categorize UVA’s 2017 games into three buckets:

  • Should-wins: Home games against W&M, UConn, and Boston College
  • Toss-ups: Home games against Indiana and Duke
  • Potential Upsets: Road games against Pitt and UNC, and a home game against Georgia Tech
  • Prayers: Road games against Louisville, Miami, and Boise State, and the home finale against VaTech.

For the Cavaliers to go bowling, they’ll likely need to sweep the “should-wins” and the “toss-ups” and pull one win out of the “potential upsets.” Due to a scheduling quirk, almost all of the more winnable games come before Halloween and also come at home. So UVA will have to start fast and defend its home turf in order to return to the postseason.

How fast? At this point, the Virginia Cavaliers will likely be clear underdogs in each of their last four games. So they might need to have bowl eligibility locked up by November 1 if they want to avoid another holiday season at home.