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Cavs’ 2013 slate tough

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Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013 7:16 pm

On Jan. 11, with the announcement of the Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, the formation began to take place with bits of danger spotted. Two weeks later, a firecracker was delivered to it in the form of an Oregon date. Monday, it all pieced together.

And, yes, the 2013 Virginia football schedule is a daunting one.

The ACC games have been positioned and UVa’s going to have its battles in some unique spots.

Mike London is already navigating for the tough road ahead.

“This is a very challenging schedule, but it is the type of schedule I want us to play each and every year,” the Cavalier head coach said in a statement. “We will have to be our best in every practice and every game.

“With eight home games, our fans can really make a difference. We can’t do it without them.”

It’ll start on Aug. 31 at Scott Stadium against BYU and end on Nov. 30 in the same spot against Virginia Tech. As London mentioned, a school-record eight of the games will be at home. Bye weeks will come on Sept. 14 (in-between Oregon and VMI) and Nov. 16 (in-between trips to North Carolina and Miami). Eight of these 12 opponents went to bowls last season and another two (the Tar Heels and Hurricanes) would have gone bowling if it weren’t for NCAA issues.

A schedule breakdown:

Aug. 31 vs. BYU: The Cougars and the Cavaliers will be meeting for the first time since 2000. BYU has made eight straight bowl games, including a Poinsettia Bowl victory in 2012.

UVa’s new offensive staff under the direction of Steve Fairchild and Tom O’Brien will be tested immediately against the Cougars, who finished third nationally in both total defense and scoring defense last season.

Sept. 7 vs. Oregon: The first-ever meeting between the two programs was a late add-on, but expect Wahoo fans to get to Scott early for this one.

The Ducks, regulars to the Bowl Championship Series, haven’t had an offense rank outside the top 10 in total yards since 2007.

It will be new Virginia defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta vs. new Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.

Sept. 21 vs. VMI: UVa’s token run-in with an FCS opponent comes here after a bye.

The Keydets were a woeful 2-9 last year.

Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh: In their debut season in the ACC, the Panthers will have already gotten their new-league feet wet by the time they host the Cavaliers.

Pitt, 6-7 last season, opens up on Labor Day against Florida State and travels to Duke on Sept. 21.

The Panthers, winless entering the game, whipped then-No. 13 Virginia Tech, 35-17, last September.

Oct. 5 vs. Ball State: In a game that feels like the Louisiana Tech matchup a year ago, the Cardinals will be that off-the-radar threat for the ‘Hoos.

Ball State, out of the Mid-American Conference, went 9-4 in 2012 and returns running back Jahwan Edwards (1,410 rushing yards last season) and quarterback Keith Wenning (over 7,000 career passing yards).

Oct. 12 at Maryland: In their final matchup as league rivals, the Terps and the Cavs will be at the midway point of their seasons.

They met at the same time in 2012 with Maryland unleashing Mr. Do It All, Stefon Diggs, on UVa in a 27-20 win. The talented sophomore will be back.

Oct. 19 vs. Duke: Phillip Sims made his first collegiate start against the Blue Devils last season and completed just half of his 42 passes in a 42-17 loss in Durham.

Will Sims be back under center this time around? Can he show the significant 12-month improvement Cavalier fans will be waiting for?

Oct. 26 vs. Georgia Tech: UVa’s young secondary struggled handling the Yellow Jacket option assignments in last season’s 56-20 loss in Atlanta.

The entire crew will return for redemption under a new style with Tenuta, a former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator.

Nov. 2 vs. Clemson: Rivaled only by only Oregon on this schedule, the Tigers will bring an explosive offense of their own to Scott Stadium.

Senior quarterback Tajh Boyd could be polishing his Heisman résumé by this time and he’ll still have equally electric receiver Sammy Watkins to throw to.

Clemson has taken three of the last four in this series.

Nov. 9 at North Carolina: From Boyd to Bryn Renner, the Cavaliers won’t be hiding from the ACC’s top quarterbacks.

Renner spearheaded a Tar Heel attack that finished eighth in scoring offense last year. Second-year coach Larry Fedora will need to fill the role left vacant by reigning All-ACC running back Giovani Bernard.

Nov. 23 at Miami: Virginia has won three straight in this series and none lacked for dramatics.

A late Michael Rocco to Jake McGee touchdown saved the Wahoos in 2012, but it didn’t erase the flashy play of running back Duke Johnson (368 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns).

The sophomore is back.

Nov. 30 vs. Virginia Tech: Is this the year the streak ends?

Who knows what both teams will playing for by this finale, but UVa will still be pepper with “beat Tech” questions all week. The Cavs haven’t done it in their last nine tries.

For Logan Thomas’ final regular season game, the ‘Hoos could provide a fitting farewell.

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