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Roundtable: How will Virginia finish the second half of the season?

A red hot 5-1 start means we should perhaps change our expectations for the second half.

Virginia v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Halfway through the season and the Virginia Cavaliers are 5-1 (no, for real). I don't think anyone outside of the McCue Center (or even inside) could have imagined such a start. Having seen what this team is capable of, we all have different expectations for the back half of the season. What are your expectations for the final six games? What is UVA’s record over these final six?

Will “The Optimist” Campbell: My jaw still has not been removed from the floor. If you had told me in August that Virginia would win five games all season, I would have probably taken the under and felt pretty confident. Whether their record is the product of poor play by their opponents, UVA is just a better football team, or some combination of both, I don't care. W's are Ws. The team is clearly playing with a different attitude and confidence that is paying dividends on the field. Over these last six games, four of which are against the top of the Coastal Division, and one is against a Heisman winner, I want to see UVa carry that confidence into each game. Competitive in all 6 is a must, with no losses by 14 or more. I think this team is better than that, and I think it is realistic to hope they accomplish that. As for record over the final 6, I think they go 3-3 with wins over BC, Georgia Tech, and, I can't believe I am going to put this in writing on the internet, Virginia Tech. With the win over BC and bowl eligibility clinched, I think they overlook Pitt and lay an egg. They're competitive against Miami, but their athletes win out in the end. Georgia Tech comes into Charlottesville overlooking UVa having played Clemson the week before and Virginia Tech the following week. And toss them records out the window the final weekend of the year. Bronco gets the biggest win of his UVa tenure (and my UVa fan lifetime).

Caroline “The Realist” Darney: Oooooh boy optimist Will is making me very uneasy. Welcome to the party, my friend. I am a little surprised at the 5-1 start, but not too surprised as I predicted a 4-2 start to this point. Granted, I had Virginia losing to Boise State and North Carolina on the road in preseason predictions, but still...within one game. The biggest surprise to me is not what the record is, but HOW they've beaten teams. The wins over W&M and UConn were relatively un-impressive as the Hoos were "supposed" to win those (though Virginia being expected to win games is a foreign idea anyway). When Virginia went on the road and stomped Boise State...everything changed for me. This team has some moxie. I have also been impressed with come-from-behind wins against a tough Duke squad and on the road at Carolina. In previous seasons, the team would have collapsed and given up the victory...this year, it just feels different. Going forward, I think they secure bowl eligibility this week against Boston College in a game that will actually be pretty stressful. A win at Pitt on the road, and a loss in a close one to GT at home will put the Hoos at 7-2 with their toughest stretch of the season looming. I think UVA will upset one of Louisville or Miami, and the Hoos - with the bowl eligibility monkey off their back - will beat Virginia Tech. 9-3...omg am I insane?

Matt “Nope Nope Nope Nope Nope” Trogdon: Hahaha. Do you think I just fell off the turnip truck, Will? No way I'm answering this question. Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

Danny “The Aggregator” Neckel: My expectations for the back half of the season are for the Hoos to go 2-4 and end up with a 7-5 record. Now predicting the two wins and four losses is a little tricky. Looking at FPI and S&P predictions, both have Boston College as a win, while only S&P has UVA beating Pitt and GT. Looking at other rankings like Sagarin and the Hoos should beat BC and Pitt, but lose to the other four. However, not everything always goes as expected, considering Virginia lost to Indiana but crushed Boise St. I can see the Cavaliers getting tripped up in Pittsburgh, but pulling off an upset in Louisville to get to 2-4, albeit through an unexpected path.

Tim “The Retiree” Mulholland: Am I still allowed to participate in these things? Hoo knows. I'm participating. My expectations for the final six games are that Virginia will go 1-5 and finish the season at an even 6-6. I'm not going to fall into the trap of getting excited about what I've seen yet. The Hoos have played the bottom half of the schedule (other than Boise State... maybe) so far. The final four games of the season are against much tougher opponents. While that would seem like a huge disappointment to some after a 5-1 start, it still fits nicely with a progression from 2-10 last year to 6-6 this year to, hopefully, 9-3 or better next year; plus it gets Virginia to a bowl game for the first time in what seems like forever. That's tangible progress. That's what I expect. Now, clearly, I'm hoping for more. Virginia could (should?) beat both BC and Pitt. They could steal an upset victory out of Louisville/GT/Miami. And I would love to see Virginia beat VT this year (and all years). So I can hope Virginia goes 3-3, or 4-2, while still being realistic about being "fine" with a 1-5 finish. I'll admit, though, that winning two games on the road already (including the Boise State win at a place that is very difficult for visiting teams to win) and the general way that Virginia has played makes me think that my expectations might be too low. As Caroline said, this year's team feels different.

Pierce “Like Cher, with just one name”: I'm inclined to agree with Tim, with the guarded optimism leading to a pessimistic outlook for the final chunk of the season. I do think GT, BC, Louisville, and Pitt are all certainly possible wins...but I think it's fair to think a couple of toss up games are due to go the other way. that I look at it, I'm going to with 2-4. I don't see VT as much of a possibility, but more so than Miami. None of this is to say I haven't been both thrilled and surprised by the Hoos' start. The turn around between last year and this year has been stunning - but really the difference between how the team looks and plays between the last couple of years under London and now is the more remarkable change. We saw some of that last year, which of course wasn't enough to result in wins - but after a year of growth...what we've seen from Benkert, a still-shallow O Line, and the defense has been best-case-scenario for 2017. I fully recognize the Hoos could continue to blow past my expectations and go 3-3 or 4-2 to finish out (OR SIX and 0), but I think 2-4 is the most likely result. Were that to happen, 7-5 would absolutely count as a successful second year in Bronco's term.


Where do you see the Hoos finishing the back half?

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