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Staff Roundtable: Will Virginia Football return to a bowl game?

As the season gets underway, our staff looks at expectations and setting the bar on performance.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Football 2018-19 season kicks off tomorrow when the Hoos welcome Richmond to Scott Stadium for a 6pm kickoff under the lights in some FIRE uniforms.

Before the season gets underway, we asked out staff a simple question:

Will the Hoos make a bowl game again this year, and do you think that’s an expectation heading into the season?

Sayer Paige: I think we are going to be able to tell relatively early whether or not UVA has the stuff to make a bowl game this season. I think so much of it comes down to not just the speed of Bryce Perkins, but his arm. We aren’t really sure how accurate of a passer he is; we’ll have to wait and see how he’ll fare in the ACC. If he can be above average in this department, and if the offensive line is able to gel, I believe our secondary is good enough for us to get to six wins.

Tiki: The schedule sets up reasonably well for six wins, so I think they will go bowling. Results in the standings don’t necessarily mean things have gone backwards, it depends on the play on the field. The Hoos caught some breaks last year on the way to six wins, so its possible they’ll play better but end up 5-7 (or worse). As Sayer said, Perkins is the key. He needs to use his legs to keep defenses honest, and then use his arm to make the big plays. If he does that without too many turnovers, the offense will be good enough. The back eight of the defense has the potential to be really good.

Your STL crew goes game by game to give you the ultimate prediction of Virginia’s 2018 football season. Bowl eligible? Beat Tech? Survive Liberty? Listen in on this week’s Streaking the Lawn Podcast!

Brian Leung: I agree with Tiki—the schedule lends itself pretty nicely to six wins. A lot of should-win and winnable home games, including Richmond, Ohio, Carolina, and Liberty. Pitt could be sneaky-better than the Pitt we’ve all known to love (that’s probably what other people say about Virginia, huh?), but you still have to put that into the winnable category. And as the crew said on the podcast, Carolina could be sneaky-hot-trash this year. That’s five wins already, and between Indiana, Duke, even Louisville on the road—there are a lot of potential Ws there. I think the Hoos go bowling again this year, but also wouldn’t consider it a backslide if it’s a 5-7 season for the same reasons Tiki said.

Emily Caron: I’m not sure if Virginia will make a bowl game this year, but, if we don’t, we’ll at least come close. The Hoos lacked consistency last season so I think that finding that will be more telling than making a bowl game when it comes to measuring this year’s success. If we play better than last season but post a worse record, I’d still be happy. Like Tiki said, a stronger 5-7 season is possible and, even if it means we don’t go bowling again, it’d mean improvements all around which we need. Plus, I’d rather not go to a bowl game and get absolutely blown out for the second year in a row.

Danny “Stats Guy” Neckel: It all comes down to Perkins. If the mobile QB transfer can provide a dynamic offense early on, then Hoos can sneak in a couple early upsets. The schedule does not start off easy as UVA could very well be 2-4 halfway through the year. With an easier latter half of the schedule, Virginia could turn it around and be 5-5 heading into Georgia Tech and VT. If the Hoos can upset Louisville or Indiana early on then I can see them making a bowl. UVA has finished the last three seasons going 1-6, 0-7, and 2-4. If they finish 4-2 or 3-3 with a win over VT I would not consider it a backslide if they miss a bowl.

Tiki: Emily, I’d rather get blown out in a bowl game for the second year in a row than miss a bowl. It’s not just the game. We’ve got an incredibly young roster so the extra month of practice is immensely valuable.

Pierce: A bowl game could be very doable if they win one of the Ohio/IU games. I think there are enough favorable ACC match ups to get three wins in conference (and hopefully take care of business against Liberty and Richmond...). If another one of those OOC toss ups go their way, they’ll be in good shape. It would be a backslide for sure not to get to six wins, though. While the Hoos won’t be favored in six games, they should be able to show that they can contend in and win enough of the toss up games. Would I I be happy with a four or five win season and a win over VT? I’d be ecstatic with any season that includes a win over the Hokies - but any team that can beat them should be more than capable of winning five other games on this schedule.

Darns: This team is absolutely capable—on paper—of making another bowl game this year. I think they might have a rough start out of the gate with some tough tests with Indiana and NC State on the road and home against Louisville and Miami early on. If they can pick up a win against one of the Louisville/NCSU/Miami trio, I feel much better about their postseason chances. If they don’t make a bowl game, the deciding factor in whether or not it’s a “failure” or “backslide” season depends on how they look in those losses. Do they play hard but not match up talent-wise with some of those opponents? I’m not mad. I’d like to avoid the late season drought like last year, and I think the schedule this year is much more favorable in that respect. I’m also totally with Pierce. If they beat VaTech, I’m much more likely to try and convince others that the 4-8 or 5-7 season is a huge success.