BN: Virginia has set up a solid record of scheduling games against Pac-12 schools. Virginia has UCLA this year and next, Oregon last season and 2016, and Stanford 2017. What is it about the Pac-12 that makes our teams good choices as opponents?
BN: Mike London is entering his 5th season, with a record of 18-31, 8-24 in conference at UVA. There is only one bowl game in that span- Chick-Fil-A Bowl after 2011 season. What does UVA need to do this season (# of wins/ postseason/conference finish/etc) for London to still be coaching in Charlottesville next season?
STL: A bowl game saves London’s bacon. It would demonstrate that things are moving in the right direction (not to mention VASTLY exceed expectations for this season). Five wins? That might do it too, IF the five wins are over the right opponents and the losses aren’t for the same dumb reasons. If we beat Kent State and Richmond, then manage three wins in conference, that’s probably enough, especially if one of the ACC wins is against Virginia Tech. I think there’s a path to four wins that keeps London in Charlottesville, but I’m not happy about it. Anything less than four and he’s out; losing to Richmond might mean he’s fired before the heart of the conference schedule.
STL: The Coastal is WIDE open. The only constant is inconsistent or unproven QB play. Miami is starting a freshman, Tech has to replace Logan Thomas with a transfer, UNC has to replace Bryn Renner, we’ve been a flaming hot mess at QB for almost ten years, Pitt is replacing Tom Savage…et cetera, et cetera. I would personally like to see Duke back in the ACC Championship Game. I like David Cutcliffe, I love what he’s done with that program, and the Blue Devils are the most palatable of some pretty unsavory options. As far as Virginia goes, finishing above sixth is going to take some luck—playing Florida State and Louisville as our Atlantic Division crossovers lays a tough row to hoe. I’d like to think we could finish above Pitt or Georgia Tech (or possibly even both), but closer to the cellar looks like the more realistic scenario.
STL: If memory serves, there was talk of moving to a 9-game conference schedule but it got axed at the offseason meetings. I think that’s a shame. I admire the PAC-12 for its scheduling rules and think it should be rewarded for that when it comes time to pick who’s in and who’s out. That said, the quasi-addition of Notre Dame means that five teams each year will be playing Notre Dame as a non-conference game; so long as Brian Kelly can keep his players in class and doing their own work, that should make for a stronger schedule slot than, say, Kansas (lookin’ at you, SEC…). I’ve also told BYU fans that the ACC rule against counting BYU as a Power-Five opponent is a mistake. TL;DR: I have lots of issues with ACC scheduling rules.
STL: First things first, the fact that he said that is a sign of inexperience. No reason to give an opponent bulletin board material. That being said, he has a point. Football Outsiders uses S&P+ to rate defenses on per-play efficiency, adjusted for opponent strength. Last year, UCLA ranked 27th, UVa ranked 32nd. We return the same number of starters on that side of the ball including an All-American safety, we add two of the nation’s top-ten overall recruits (DT Andrew Brown and S Quin Blanding), and get back an NFL-caliber CB who missed most of last season with an injury (Demetrious Nicholson). Neutral outsiders say this defense could be one of the nation’s best. So Greyson has a point. But practice is different from a game and our offensive line is just … ew bad awful. We discussed his season-long prospects over at STL, and all pretty much agree that if he isn’t starting by the end of the year—barring injury—then the train has gone badly off the rails.
STL: Florida State, because they’ll go undefeated. Alabama, because they get Auburn at home. I want to say both Oregon and UCLA from the PAC-12, but given that they would have to go through each other in the conference title game just before selection time, probably only one. I’ll say Michigan State gets past Oregon and into the playoff (which means Oregon would have to win the PAC-12 to get in, but would be a super strong one-loss team). My seeds would be #1 FSU vs. #4 Oregon, and #2 Alabama vs. #3 Michigan State. One little piggie gets ALL THE POINTS, one little piggie gets none. Florida State outshoots the Ducks, and MSU out-Sabans Saban. Defense wins championships, but so does Jameis Winston. FSU 24, Michigan State 18.
STL: In the above scenario, Jameis Winston. In my dream world, Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. He’s going into his third year as a starter in an offense where experience REALLY counts. If they beat Ohio State in week one, look for his name to pop up in dark horse lists by mid-season. Anchors aweigh, vote Keenan all day.