ACC Football 2012 Payback Games: Virginia Cavaliers

If Virginia Hopes to Beat Virginia Tech This Year, QB Michael Rocco Will Need to Deliver in a Big Way

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Virginia Cavaliers

Opponent: Virginia Tech

Last Year: Loss, 38-0 vs. Virginia Tech

This Year: November 24, @ Virginia Tech

Sporting an 8-3 overall record, with their first national ranking in years, the Cavaliers appeared to have a real chance to pull off an upset against hated rival Virginia Tech. And while the battle for the Commonwealth Cup is always an important matchup, the 2011 edition carried some extra weight. With a win, the Hoos would take home their first division title, and a shot at winning the ACC and earning a BCS bid. Unfortunately, UVA just never stood much of a chance. Not only did the school’s best team in years lose to its cross-state rivals, but they were thumped, definitively, by a score of 38-0. What was once a dream season, suddenly had a bitter taste.

It wasn’t just one facet of the game that got away from Virginia, either. Taking a look at the stat lines, they were just utterly dominated. Tech forced four turnovers, held the ball for over 35 minutes, and QB Logan Thomas was allowed to manage a balanced offense with little effort. The Hoos’ defense collapsed in the fourth, and their offense was one-dimensional, tallying just 30 yards on the ground. All of Mike London’s team’s strengths — ball control, balance, fundamental play — went out the window in the first, and Virginia never regained their composure.

In 2012, there’s no miracle in London and his team’s success anymore. Now, he’s expected to duplicate last year’s eight-win campaign. if not best it. Despite losing plenty of talent, the team will still be guided on offense by QB Michael Rocco and RB Perry Jones. Both were contained in the previous matchup. And if Virginia gets another shot at stealing Coastal Division bragging rights this season, both will need to figure out a way to break through VPI’s highly-ranked defense. Chances may still be bleak, but London has this team believing in themselves, which could be half the fight.

Previously: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse

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