For one, Virginia football had just had the one losing season beforehand, in 2006, and that one was just a 5-7 campaign.
(Al Groh had another 5-7 year in 2001, his first year on the job. That one, and 2006, both seemed like aberrations at the time.)
You’re still thinking in 2007 that 5-1 felt somewhat normal, expected. The 2004 team had started 7-1 and was ranked in the top 10 nationally in November, for instance.
And then there was how odd that 2007 season was. Remember all the tight wins? Three Ws by one, two others by two, another by five.
That’s six games where the ‘Hoos were a play away from a W turning into an L.
Chris Long just seemed to will the team to victory most nights, like the 18-17 win at Maryland, when he planted a Terps QB in the end zone, or the 22-20 win at UNC, when he intercepted what was supposed to be a slant pass at the line of scrimmage, sealing the frozen rope and taking off in the other direction for a long return.
All these years later, it was the 2007 season that was the aberration. Virginia has had just one winning season since, in 2011, and the 5-1 start for the Cavs in 2017 ties the high-water mark for wins dating back to that season.
And this year’s UVA team was universally picked last in the ACC Coastal, and one writer, who shall remain nameless, unless he changes his name, which he is looking into, incidentally, had the ‘Hoos winning one game, maybe.
Five and one. On the verge of being ranked. A year after an embarrassing 2-10 season that ended with a five-game losing streak in which UVA was barely competitive.
The closing stretch, yes, is tough, with games at Louisville and Miami, and then Black Friday at home against Virginia Tech, which hasn’t lost to Virginia since Facebook was but a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.
But you can also look at it this way: there isn’t a team left on UVA’s schedule that you’d say the Cavs can’t possibly take down.
Hell, Louisville lost today at home to Boston College, and Virginia has played the Cardinals well since their arrival in the ACC, beating them in Charlottesville in 2014, losing by a touchdown on the road in 2015, and losing on a last-minute TD pass at home last season.
The win at North Carolina showed that you can’t overlook anybody, either. UNC fell to 1-6 with the loss, but the game came down to the final minute; that’s college football in 2017.
BC can win at Louisville, Syracuse can beat Clemson, FSU can be 2-3, with narrow wins over Wake Forest and Duke, and you’re not supposed to bat an eye, because that’s all just par for the course.
A lotta, lotta, lotta football is yet to be played. But the same guy who said this UVA team would be hard-pressed to win a game a couple of months ago is now going to suggest to you that you might need to set your sights higher than seeing your team just get to a minor bowl.
A couple of breaks go the way of the good guys, and that game on Black Friday could be for a play-in game to the BCS.
One game at a time. Boston College is next.
Column by Chris Graham