One of the nation’s most explosive college football teams over the past four years, the Oregon Ducks, will be coming to Scott Stadium this September, the first of a two-game series.
Oregon, which finished second in the nation this past season with a 12-1 record, has played in four consecutive Bowl Championship Series and owns a record of 46-7 over that span. The Ducks boast one of the country’s most exciting offenses, having averaged more than 46 points per game over the last three years.
Virginia, coming off a 4-8 campaign, will play an unprecedented eight home games this season, including the Sept. 7 date against the Ducks. The Cavaliers will also host: BYU (Aug. 31), VMI (Sept. 21), Ball State (Oct. 5), along with ACC foes Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Only VMI did not play in the postseason in 2012.
The announcement of Oregon’s addition to the 2013 season created quite a buzz on social media all day long Tuesday and clearly is a strategy to improve attendance at Scott Stadium.
Virginia seldom comes close to filling the facility. In seven games last season, the Cavaliers averaged 46,650 fans per game, which ranked eighth in the 12-team ACC. That figure was down from the 2011 bowl season when UVa drew an average of 47,940 per game for an eight-win team. In 2010, the Cavaliers averaged 45,458.
With a 12-win team such as Oregon coming in, along with an 11-win Clemson, not to mention state rival Virginia Tech and BYU, officials at UVa are hoping for a major jump in attendance at Scott Stadium, which officially seats 61,500 (not counting overflow room on the grassy hill inhabited mostly by students).
Clearly, Virginia athletic department officials believe Oregon will be a major draw just as Southern California was in 2008. A record crowd of 64,947 showed up for that game, more than 1,000 higher than the second-largest crowd in stadium history (63,701 for Miami in 2004).
According to UVa executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver, the two schools actually discussed a potential game between the Cavaliers and Ducks to be played in Europe in 2017. However, as the conversation continued, Oliver recognized an opportunity for a home-and-home series with Oregon beginning this fall. UVa will return the game to Eugene, Ore., in 2016.
“The chance to add Oregon presents us with the unique opportunity to have eight home games in a single season,” Oliver said. “Kicking off the season against BYU and playing Oregon will be a challenge, but one that Coach (Mike) London has been on board with since the very beginning. I am hopeful that our fans will embrace this schedule and create a home field advantage to help make our team successful.”
London also said in a statement, released by the school, that he is looking forward to the 2013 season and the challenges it presents.
“We want our players to be able to compete against great teams,” London said. “Bringing BYU and Oregon to Scott Stadium to start the season will be a tremendous challenge, but one our team is preparing for now and is very excited to take on.”
Virginia was originally slated to return a game to Penn State after defeating the Nittany Lions in Charlottesville last fall. However, when Oliver saw the opportunity to boost this season’s home schedule, he began negotiations with Penn State to move that game to a future date.
Penn State has since replaced Virginia on its 2013 schedule with Central Florida. In order for Oregon to make room for the Cavaliers this coming season, the Ducks had to drop a game against Nevada.
Oregon will bring a new head coach but not necessarily a new look to Charlottesville this fall.
Coach Chip Kelly left the Ducks after this past season to accept the head coaching position with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Oregon promoted offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to replace Kelly.
Eight of Oregon’s 10 coaches remained with the program, including Scott Frost, the former wide receivers coach, who has now been promoted as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator. Frost was the quarterback for Nebraska coach Tom Osborne’s undefeated 1997 national championship team.
At least two of the key players in Oregon’s success this past season, dual-threat quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back DeAnthony Thomas, are also returning.