As we head into week 8 of the college football season, the Virginia Cavaliers are one of two undefeated teams in the ACC, and are all alone atop the Coastal Division. It's early in the ACC season, Virginia's position in the driver's seat of the Coastal Division race was NOT one that the experts saw coming.
First, let's look at the current ACC standings, culled from ESPN:
|North Carolina State
And here are the preseason predictions from the ACC media, from theACC.com
The ACC media pegged the Coastal to be a four-team race, as Miami, Duke, VT, and UNC split the first place votes roughly evenly. Georgia Tech and Pitt combined for 3 first-place votes, while Virginia had none :(. To date, that GT/Pitt/UVA trio are the only Coastal teams with winning records. The three are a combined 6-2, including 4-1 against teams picked to be in the top 3 of either division.
Your friendly STL staff somehow managed to do even worse in our preseason poll; we had a similar pecking order as the ACC media, but were a bit higher on UNC. Oops.
The Atlantic race, on the other hand, has gone...almost exactly as expected. Florida State is clearly the division's best, followed by Clemson, then Louisville. It gets messy after that, but Wake Forest is in the basement, also as predicted.
Before we celebrate too much, there are some obvious caveats to be aware of. There's a lot of football to be played, especially for the Hoos, who only 2 conference games under their bets. And teams have played drastically different schedules over the beginning of the ACC season; UVA hasn't played a road conference game yet (though the team's home win over cross-over opponent Louisville was an impressive one). Tim wrote a comparison of each team's remaining schedule yesterday - remember we still have to play at FSU.
So the season is young, and things could very well settle out to something closer to preseason expectations. But Virginia's showdown at Duke could do more to dispel them. With a win, the Hoos would improve to 3-0, solidifying themselves as the frontrunner in the Coastal heading into a winnable Homecomings matchup with UNC. If the team's struggles with the Blue Devils continue, Virginia would fall back into the pack in a wild race.