Analysis: What does Virginia football 2018 schedule portend?

uva footballVirginia football took advantage of a favorable schedule to go bowling in 2017 for the first time in six years. An early look at the 2018 schedule suggests that a return trip to the football postseason is possible.

The ‘Hoos open again with FCS Richmond on Sept. 1 before a road game at Indiana and a home game in Week 3 with Ohio, and start ACC play on Sept. 22 against Louisville.

September will be a five-game month for UVA, concluding Sept. 29 at NC State, before the bye week in Week 6.

The second half of the schedule kicks off at home on Oct. 13 with Miami, starting a stretch that includes all six ACC Coastal opponents, with a rare November nonconference game, Nov. 10 against Liberty, breaking things up.

Breakdown: Before the bye

Worst case, UVA is 2-1 after its first three, and a 3-0 start is not at all out of the realm of possibility. The Indiana game is the back end of a home-and-home that the Hoosiers opened in 2017 with a 34-17 win in Charlottesville on their way to a 5-7 finish.

It won’t be easy to go on the road to avenge that defeat, but if you have to play in Big 10 country, there are worse places to do so.

Week 3 against Ohio won’t be a cakewalk, either. The Bobcats won nine games in 2017, including a win over Big 12 member Kansas, but you have to like UVA on paper, at least this far out.

Week 4, at home against Louisville, could be interesting. The Cardinals are losing 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, so we don’t know right now what we’ll be getting when they come to Scott Stadium. And of course, Virginia has largely been competitive with Louisville since the program’s arrival in the ACC.

Week 5 at NC State will be … tough. No getting around that.

Breakdown: After the bye

Hey, at least you get a week off, then Miami at home on Oct. 13. Virginia played Miami well in 2017, and has played the ‘Canes tough the past few years.

Then it’s at Duke, a team that UVA has beaten the past two years, then UNC at home (Virginia won in Chapel Hill in 2017).

Then it’s Pitt at home on a Friday night, then Liberty.

The finish, at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, is brutal.

Do we get to six?

Let’s be conservative and say the nonconference is a 3-1 proposition. That means you need three ACC wins to get to six and bowl eligibility.

The best options there, in order: Pitt and North Carolina at home, Duke on the road, Louisville at home, Miami at home.

The road games at State and the Techs are at the bottom of the list in terms of probabilities.

There are three wins there.

Unanswered questions

They are a-plenty. Does Bryce Perkins step up and start at QB? Does the coaching staff replenish the depleted offensive and defensive lines?

There is talent at the skill positions on offense and at linebacker and in the defensive secondary. Line play and QB play will be key, and we have no idea how either will look.

Depth continues to be a concern heading into Year 3 of the Bronco Mendenhall era. He needs a couple more trips to the grocery store to stock up.

Bottom line: This team should go bowling next year, but it will be another cold-weather bowl.

Article by Chris Graham