Nonconference opponents (with 2011 records)
Penn State (9-4)
At TCU (11-2)
Louisiana Tech (8-5)
ACC home games
ACC road games
At Georgia Tech
At NC State
At Virginia Tech
Gut-check time: Nov. 24 at Virginia Tech, of course. 38-zip. ‘Nuff said. UVa was on a roll last year -- a four-game winning streak, ranked in the top 25, and one of the hottest teams in the ACC. Instead of making a statement against its in-state rival with the Coastal Division title on the line, UVa suffered its first shutout loss at home in 172 games. Ouch. Virginia has made progress under coach Mike London, but last year’s game showed there is still a gap between the two programs. In order for the balance of power to even start to shift back to Charlottesville, the Hoos have to leave Blacksburg with a win this year.
Trap game: Louisiana Tech. ESPN Insider Travis Haney listed La Tech as one of the top five BCS buster candidates for 2012.
Snoozer: Sept. 1 vs. Richmond. I know, I know, it’s London’s old team, so there is the plotline of familiarity there. But it’s still an FCS team and UVa should have the upper hand. Should.
Defining stretch: Nov. 10-Nov. 24 (Miami, North Carolina, at Virginia). Will it be a November to remember for UVa, or one to forget? The Hoos end the season with three straight Coastal Division opponents, which will determine their final place in the league standings. A Thursday night game against UNC followed by a road trip to Blacksburg will put UVa in the spotlight.
Final analysis: Virginia is going to have to win on the road if it’s going to be a factor in the Coastal Division race, let alone get to a bowl game again. At Georgia Tech. At TCU. At Duke (which it lost to three of the past four years). At NC State and at rival Virginia Tech. Those are tough trips, especially to Atlanta, TCU and Blacksburg. This is a tough schedule for a defense that has to replace seven starters. With a bye week that doesn’t come until Oct. 27, Virginia won’t have any time to rest in the first half of the season, and the game against Georgia Tech will determine an early pecking order in the division standings. We should know by the end of September how seriously to take Virginia’s postseason chances because it will have already faced plenty of legitimate competition.