While the official schedule does not come out until later this month, Virginia now knows what the out-of-conference schedule holds in store for the Cavaliers.
1. William and Mary (Home)
Al Groh has smartly decided to schedule more of these cupcake games to help inflate his mediocre record at Virginia.
Looking back at the 5-7 campaign last season, despite wins against both Georgia Tech and UNC, the shutout victory against eventual FCS national champion Richmond may rank third on the list of wins Virginia posted last year.
The Tribe should be an easier challenge, but with the Cavaliers it might be smart not to take anything for granted.
2. TCU (Home)
The Horned Frogs were certainly impressive last season, posting an 11-2 record and a somewhat surprising upset against Boise State in their bowl game.
TCU only lost two games last season, to Big XII Champion Oklahoma and the undefeated Utah Utes.
However, despite reports that this should be a cake walk for the Mountain West dynamo, let's keep in mind that last year's squad boasted 38 seniors.
Emerging TCU quarterback Andy Dalton definitely improved from his freshman to his sophomore year, but Virginia still has one of the top defenses in the country.
The key for the Cavaliers will be getting new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon to work at breaking the Horned Frog defense and utilizing Virginia's speed in the spread offense next season.
I actually would not be surprised if Virginia didn't find a way to win this game.
3. Indiana (Home)
The Hoosiers may not have the big name appeal of a West Virginia, but I actually think this is a genius idea for both teams. Why? It gives them both something they want.
For Virginia, it gives them a very realistic shot at beating a team from a BCS conference. The Cavaliers are trying to rebound from past struggles and all they really care about are wins.
Let's face it, in the logjam that is ACC football, it doesn't really matter who you play out of conference. Get the wins and make your way to a bowl where you can springboard into the next season.
The Cavaliers should have been in one last year but threw away games in November, and Groh knows his job depends on Virginia being sent to even the most menial of bowl games.
With a good deal of young and talented players, it is important that Virginia gets back to practicing in December so they can develop and potentially challenge for the ACC title in 2010. Indiana gives Virginia a challenge, but a winnable challenge.
For Indiana, it actually gives them a noteworthy out-of-conference game.
For years, the Hoosiers have made their schedule cupcake city so that they can at least bolster a few wins before the beatdown in Big Ten country. Last year, the Hoosiers played Western Kentucky, Murray State, Ball State, and Central Michigan out of conference.
Granted, the last two went on to have pretty decent years, but Indiana could not have expected that when they inked the deal. This gives Indiana fans a big opportunity, too. Virginia is certainly no Goliath and a road victory like that could go a long way in helping build respect for the program.
Indiana has nothing to lose in this match and a great deal to gain.
4. Southern Miss (Away)
The Golden Eagles have gone to seven straight bowl games and posted 15 straight winning seasons. That's the kind of consistency that made George Welsh a hero at the University of Virginia.
Of course, the ACC is a bit different from Conference USA (then again, who knows). I think this is a good matchup for the Golden Eagles, and with Virginia's awful bowl record Southern Mississippi will most likely win this contest.
Still, it should be a strong challenge for the Cavaliers, and if Virginia could pull off the win, I think it can give them some confidence on the road in future ACC games later on this upcoming season.
Besides, much like East Carolina or Pittsburgh, if Virginia has scheduled a home-and-home, they are in good position to take the home game and build towards the 2010 season where big expectations may be on the horizon.
Other games that are known are:
vs. Virginia Tech
vs. Georgia Tech
Virginia fans have suffered a great deal this season, but there are signs of hope with a new offensive coordinator and talented returning players.
Virginia had chances last year, and even led their division in early November. The Cavaliers can compete again, but it depends a great deal on navigating this out-of-conference schedule.
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