The college football season is fast approaching with UVA football kicking off its season against William and Mary in just over four weeks. Although the matchup against the Tribe can be considered a “warm up” game, Virginia’s ACC slate does not leave Bronco Mendenhall’s side any breathing room.
After hosting its first two games at home, the Cavs will hit the road for three of its next four ACC games, including a trip to North Carolina and Miami. Yes, this means the second half of the season would end with four home games in six, however, the first few games could be daunting.
Simply put this schedule is a bear. This season could easily swing either way.
Here is a quick look at the schedule:
Sept. 4 William & Mary
Opponent: Mike London will be in Charlottesville once again this time on the opposite sideline. This should be a good warmup for the Cavaliers as they prepare for a rough couple of games ahead.
Prediction: 98% chance of a UVA win
Sept. 11 Illinois
Opponent: Bret Bielema is trying to turn around a program that has underachieved the last few years in his first season as Illinois’ head coach. The program has not had a winning season in about a decade. Bielema does have an experience roster, including a very talented offensive line. However, Virginia may benefit from facing Illinois early on in the season.
Sept. 18 at North Carolina
Opponent: Just like UVA, UNC will return an experienced offensive line, which is good news from North Carolina’s three-year veteran quarterback Sam Howell – although I’m guessing Howell would want his men to provide better pass protection after yielding 2.8 sacks per game last season. Howell will be breaking in new receivers and the offense will miss NFL-caliber talent in the running back room. However, the difference maker will be its defense. Can UNC’s defense improve enough? North Carolina are ACC Coastal contenders, and honestly, they need to take advantage of Howell’s last season as a Tar Heel. Virginia has had some good games against UNC in recent years. This is a toss up right now, however, I give the edge to UNC since it’s on the road.
Sept. 24 Wake Forest
Opponent: Wake Forest is one team that will certainly benefit from the “super seniors.” The team is loaded with experience and it could be the deepest team Dave Clawson has had in Winston-Salem.
Sept. 30 at Miami
Opponent: Miami’s season hinges in how well did D’Eriq King recover from his ACL injury this offseason. King completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 2,686 yards, 23 touchdowns and five interceptions, while also adding 538 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. If he isn’t healthy things may go sideways for the Canes. On defense, Manny Diaz made a lot of changes in Coral Gables, including making him the play caller on defense and changing three new defensive position coaches. Honestly, Miami’s season will depend on King. My prediction will also depend on King.
Oct. 9 at Louisville
Opponent: Louisville has work to do to fix an offense that saw its quarterback turn over the ball several times and a defense that one can argue does not have elite talent. However, the linebacker room is a strength for the Cardinals and if UVA can’t cement a run game…
Oct. 16 Duke
Opponent: Duke is coming into 2021 after winning only two games in last year, which is the worst record David Cutcliffe has had during his tenure with the Blue Devils. There will be a new man under center, and while the defense are losing some experience, the hope for Duke is that having proper practice will help Cutcliffe and his staff develop the talent they have.
Oct. 23 Georgia Tech
Opponent: Jeff Sims is no longer a freshman and GT hopes his second year will bring more success and more consistency for the signal caller. Georgia Tech is expected to have a better offensive this season with head coach Geoff Collins going to the transfer portal to help boost his offensive line. Collins also dipped back into the portal to strengthen the other side of the trenches.
Oct. 30 at BYU
Opponent: It is a rebuilding year for BYU with almost all of its big offensive playmakers, including quarterback Zach Wilson, gone. The offensive line is still a strength in 2021, however, BYU’s defense will have to progress quickly if they want to repeat 2020’s success.
Nov. 13 Notre Dame
Opponent: Notre Dame lost a lot of talent from its 2020 side and 2021 could really be defined as a transition year. However, unfortunately for the ‘Hoos they face the Irish towards the end of the season, giving quarterback Jack Coan and his offensive line to gel with one another. The defense on the other hand returns plenty of experienced starters.
Nov. 20 at Pitt
Opponent: Quarterback Kenny Pickett is back for a fifth season.Pickett completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,408 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while he also added eight touchdowns on the ground. Panthers still need a run game to balance out the offense. Meanwhile, the defense may have lost some talent, but they are able to reload quite effectively.
Nov. 27 Virginia Tech
Opponent: Depth is a major concern for the Hokies this upcoming year, especially at quarterback. There is certainly talent on this team and they could sneak up on sides especially if Jalen Holston and Raheem Blackshear can get the run game going and their pass defensive is better, however, if they are not healthy by the end of the season, Virginia should be the favorites headed in.
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