Welcome back to our newest football feature, Opponent Watch, where we recap the weekend's results of the other teams on Virginia's remaining schedule, to help the fans develop an understanding of what's upcoming. Once the season starts unfolding, we'll start looking at UVA's apparent place in the pecking order of the Coastal Division, but so far only VT has played an ACC game.
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 9/15 @ UVA
This week's result: Bye
Odd to have a bye week in the second week of the season, but it is what it is, Ohio gets an extra week to prep for its showdown with UVA, coming off a close call vs FCS Howard
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat 9/22 @ UVA
This week's result: Won 31-7 vs Indiana State (Home)
Louisville bounced back effectively from their season-opening trouncing by Alabama to take on Indiana State and a downpour (the game delayed over 2 hours for the same rainstorm that pummeled the Wahoos), to soundly beat the visiting FCS Sycamores. It was an odd game all around, with RS Fr QB Malik Cunningham being sent in to replace a listless starting QB Jawon Pass midway through the game, and a trick formation giving the rock to Right Tackle (and former priority Hoo target) Mekhi Becton for a 1-yard rushing TD. The big takeaway here (after all, it's only an FCS win), is that Louisville may have a QB controversy on its hands. Cunningham led four scoring drives, completing 6-of-7 for 75 yards and a TD, adding 12 rushes for 54 yards, in his relief appearance. Expect both Cunningham and Pass to see time next week against Western Kentucky.
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 9/29 @ NCSU
This week's result: Won 41-7 vs Georgia State (Home)
NC State did what they were supposed to do against Georgia State, a lower-tier Sun Belt squad. Star QB Ryan Finley stayed sharp, going 31 of 38 for 370 yards and 2 scores (also also setting up 3 short RB plunges), as his deep receiving corps continued to overcome nagging injuries with a "next man up" mentality. The rushing game struggled for the second game in a row, getting only 3.7 yards a carry against a bad defense, and even that statistic was buoyed by one 39 yard breakaway. Not many takeaways from this one; NC State has a big match-up with WVU next week, though we'll see about weather effects.
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 10/13 @ UVA
This week's result: Won 77-0 vs Savannah State (Home)
Miami bounced back from its disappointing loss to LSU by crushing a buy-game opponent in impressive, but ultimately hollow, fashion. No real takeaways here, as beating an FCS MEAC team is an "empty calories" kind of victory.
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 10/20 @ Duke
This week's result: Won 21-7 vs Northwestern (Away)
This was a nice win for Duke. They went to Chicago as a 3-point underdog and came away 14 point victors, a true road win over a B1G rival. QB Daniel Jones continued his solid start to the season, going 16/22 for 192 yards and 3 TDs, no turnovers. The ground game struggled to get any traction, as Northwestern sold out to stop the run, with Duke only gaining 97 yards on the ground on 39 attempts. But Duke's defense won the day, giving up yardage (381 total for Northwestern) but getting stops when they needed them, picking NU QB Clayton Thorson off twice, and stopping the Wildcats on 4th down four different times. Unfortunately, this game for Duke will ultimately be remembered for key injuries, as QB Jones needed surgery for his collarbone and will miss a few weeks and all-ACC cornerback Mark Gilbert is out for the season.
Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 10/27 @ UVA
This week's result: Lost 41-19 vs East Carolina (Away)
Another week suffering for widespread suspensions, another embarassing road loss for UNC to open the season. Nine players missed the game due to the selling of team-issued Nike equipment, and then lost starting RB Antonio Williams for a targeting ejection. UNC's offense didn't look awful, putting up nearly 400 yards in balanced fashion with no turnovers, though they had to settle for field goals a disappointing four times, and failed to convert on fourth down twice. The defense was the real disappointment, giving up over 500 yards, allowing ECU to convert 11 of 19 3rd down attempts (plus a 4th down), and failing to notch a turnover for the 2nd straight week. For context, this is an ECU squad that lost to FCS North Carolina A&T last week, losing 3 turnovers in the process. Most of Carolina's suspended players start filtering back onto the team this week, just in time to welcome a ranked UCF squad (weather permitting).
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Fri, 11/2 @ UVA
This week's result: Lost 61-6 vs Penn State (Home)
Rough night for the Panthers as they welcomed their in-state rival and promptly got pasted on national TV. Pitt actually kept it interesting for the first half, trailing only 14-6 at the break, but Penn State poured in 37-points after halftime letting folks go to bed early. Pitt wunkerkind QB Kenny Pickett looked lost, throwing for only 55 yards and an INT, and chipping in only 30 yards on the grounds on 14 runs. The only Pitt player to look halfway decent on offense was senior RB Quadree Ollison, who had 119 rushing yards, though 63 of those came on one long 1st quarter rip. Otherwise the Penn State defense, one that gave up 38 points to Appalachian State last week, just smothered the Pitt offense in every phase. Pitt's defense held strong for a littlewhile, stealing two fumbles away from PSU RB (and Hoo legacy) Ricky Slade, but ultimately faded hard. Key statistic for Pitt? 14 penalties for 116 yards called against them.
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 11/10 @ UVA
This week's result: Lost 14-38 vs Army (Away)
Liberty simply had no answer for the Knights' rushing attack, as Army piled up an ungodly 449 yards on the ground. Army jumped out to a 24-0 lead early in the third quarter, but to Liberty's credit they scored a couple touchdowns in response, narrowing the lead to 10 points before entering the final period. But Army would put the game away with two more rushing touchdowns behind their balanced attack, with five different rushers accumulating more than 50 yards apiece. Offensively, Liberty looked night and day from their dominant showing against ODU last week, when they put up 52 points. Liberty QB Stephen Calvert had a solid day statistically, 307 yards and 2 TDs, but only 51% accuracy and an interception to go with it. A pair of lost fumbles added to the Flames' woes, and Liberty had to completely abandon the ground game once they were forced to play catch-up (23 rush attempts vs 37 passes), allowed Army to bend but not break.
Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 11/17 @ GT
This week's result: Lost 49-38 vs South Florida (Away)
Rough loss for the Jackets as their special teams and defense couldn't get anything done against USF. The Bulls started with two KO Return TDs in the 1st half and were able to garner over 400 yards of offense with only one TO, converting reliably on 3rd down (6-11) and 4th (1-2), pulling away in the fourth quarter after they'd worn down the GT defense. GT's offense tried to keep up in the shootout, and actually compiled an insane 600 total yards of offense (over 400 rushing), but ultimately were undone by 3 turnovers (2 INTs, 1 FUML) and an inability to convert on 3rd down (3 of 12). GT's offense was once again built around QB Taquon Marshall (183 yards passing, 113 rushing). Most alarming for GT was that they actually had a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter before surrendering 3 TDs to close the game.
Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Fri, 11/23 @ VT
This week's result: Won 62-17 vs William and Mary (Home)
Nothing much to see here. VT rolled the in-state FCS squad as expected, getting lots of run for the 2nd and 3rd stringers in the second half.
Record: 2-0 (1-0)