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From the Upper Deck: Virginia Hosts Indiana in Pivotal Matchup

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A win would give Virginia their first 2-0 start since 2012

NCAA Football: Virginia at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to call a game in early September between ACC and Big Ten also-rans a pivotal matchup, but when Virginia is looking to the postseason, it’s matchups like this that prove crucial. The Hoos are an early three-point underdog against the Indiana Hoosiers, even at home, but that’s likely one of the closest spreads they’ll see all season. Pick up this win and the Hoos are a third of the way to a bowl game. Drop it, and they face an uphill climb the rest of the way. What will it take to get the W? Check it out...From the Upper Deck

  1. Contain Cobbs - The Virginia secondary was stellar last week against William and Mary and more specifically against DeVonte Dedmon, holding the star wideout to only two catches for 11 yards. Things get much tougher this week as Indiana boasts a potent passing offense led by quarterback Richard Lagow and junior receiver Simmie Cobbs. Cobbs is a 6-4, 220 lb freak who torched the Ohio State Buckeyes for 11 catches, 149 yards, and a touchdown. That doesn’t sound very fun for a secondary who gave up its share of big plays last season. And adding to the challenge, the Hoos will be without cornerback Tim Harris who is out for the year with a wrist injury. Freshman Germane Crowell looks to be the next man up in replacing Harris, though I would imagine Virginia will roll coverage Cobbs’ way and Quin Blanding may have a busy afternoon. For the Cavaliers to be successful, they don’t have to stop Cobbs completely, they just have to make sure he doesn’t beat them single-handedly.
  2. Pound the Rock - 292 yards. I repeat, 292 yards. That’s how many rushing yards Ohio State amassed in their week one matchup with the Hoosiers. While Virginia is no Ohio State, and Jordan Ellis is no J.K. Dobbins, there is no reason to believe the Hoos shouldn’t be able to run the football effectively on Saturday. You’d have thought that would have been the game plan last Saturday and Virginia would have had its way with the Tribe, but due to the effectiveness of Kurt Benkert and the passing game, they didn’t really force things on the ground. That may be a different story this week however, as running the ball will keep the fast-paced Hoosier offense off the field. Look for Virginia to come at Indiana with a steady dose of Ellis and a passing game a little closer to the line of scrimmage utilizing Daniel Hamm and Olamide Zaccheaus.
  3. Pressure from the D-Line - The Indiana game plan isn’t likely to be very run heavy, and that’s probably a good thing consider William and Mary (though the box score doesn’t necessarily show it) had success running right at Virginia’s center. But the defensive line will still be critical in this game as they’re ability to force pressure on Lagow will ease the pressure put on the Cavalier secondary to cover Hoosier receivers. Ohio State was able to sack Lagow five times, so getting after the senior signal caller will be key. Andrew Brown seems to be a beast ready to break out. Go ahead and set the “over/under” of sacks for the senior blue chipper at 1.5 and I’ll take the over.

Kickoff is at 3:30 P.M. from Scott Stadium. For those watching at home, the game has been moved to ESPNU as the matchup between Arkansas State and Miami originally tabbed for that time slot has been cancelled. Join us in the game thread, check back on Sunday to see how we did, and as always, Go Hoos!