Is Virginia getting screwed by the new ACC 10-game schedule?

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Virginia’s Cav Man mascot joins fans on The Hill to celebrate a fourth-quarter field goal against Georgia Tech (Photo by John Markon).

When the ACC computers spit out the newly revised 10-plus-one schedule on Wednesday afternoon, they didn’t show Virginia’s football team much love.

Let’s face it, UVA’s new league schedule is brutal. Of the 10 conference games, the Cavaliers are facing what many college football observers believe are the top three teams in each of the Atlantic and Coastal divisions, although everyone is playing in just one division this season.

The Cavaliers’ five home games are against Boston College, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina and NC State, in no particular order. UVA’s five road games — and this is where it gets even more brutal — are against Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

How many college football teams would come out of that road schedule feeling good about itself?

If Bronco Mendenhall likes challenges, well he’s got one.

Some preseason polls had Clemson, Louisville and Florida State as 1-2-3 in the Atlantic, and had Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami as 1-2-3 in the Coastal.

No, UVA didn’t get much respect after winning the division last fall and returning most of its starters on defense, in addition to its entire offensive line and experienced backs and a sure-handed wide receiver. In addition, the Wahoos had some nice transfers in the offseason, including quarterback Keytaon Thompson from Mississippi State and tight end Tony Poljan from Central Michigan.

Hosting Louisville and Carolina could weigh heavily in Virginia’s favor, although many are predicting the Tar Heels to be strong behind quarterback Sam Howell, the second-best QB in the league after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.

But the road games are wicked. Clemson will be battling for another College Football Playoff experience and there’s likely no one in the ACC that can even hang with the Tigers.

Florida State was not originally on UVA’s schedule, but that’s another challenging road game even though the Seminoles aren’t what they used to be. The Cavaliers defeated FSU in Charlottesville last season, 31-24. There’s a new sheriff in town though, as Mike Norvell has come to Tallahassee in aims of restoring order in the program. Norvell won at Memphis and his teams have a reputation for putting a lot of points on the board.

Virginia played at Miami last season and suffered a haunting 17-9 loss when the Cavaliers’ offense coughed and sputtered and couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone on six trips inside the red zone.

If those three road games aren’t challenging enough, how about tossing on a trip to Blacksburg where UVA hasn’t won since 1998.

While the games are more than a month away, there is concern in the sports world about playing contests in the state of Florida, which has been a new hot spot for the Covid-19 virus.

Dr. John MacKnight, UVA’s chief team physician and a member of the ACC’s Medical Advisory Group, said recently that nobody wants to play in Florida right now.

The ACC is allowing its teams to play one nonconference opponent, but the stipulation is that game must be played within the state of the ACC institution. There have been rumors about West Virginia filling that slot, but there has been no confirmation of that game being agreed upon.

UVA said it would announce that plus-one opponent at a future time.

No dates, times or TV assignments have been announced at this time.