I was going to put “Richmond” down for the key stretch since the Hoos are still trying to win a home opener, but that’s just wrong …
Key stretch: At Duke, Maryland, at Boston College (Nov. 6-Nov. 20)
Analysis: Much like Wake Forest’s key stretch, this one is more about winning the winnable games that can get you to the postseason than it is surviving the toughest competition. If Mike London can get wins against Richmond, VMI and Eastern Michigan (the bar is starting a little low here, folks), a 3-0 record against the key stretch would have Virginia bowl eligible. That would be exceeding expectations in London’s first year. The fact that two of these are road trips doesn’t help matters much, nor does the fact that Virginia has dropped a notch below Duke on the respectability meter. Don’t forget Virginia only won two conference games last year, so a 3-0 record here would be measurable improvement.
Prediction: It really does seem premature to be talking about a bowl game for this program before it beats Richmond, London’s former team, in the home opener. One step at a time for the Cavaliers. If it’s going to happen, though, it will be determined in November. The road trip to Duke looks like the most winnable game of the three, even though the Cavaliers have lost to the Blue Devils each of the past two seasons. Maryland has more talent on its roster right now, and BC has been one of the toughest teams to beat on its home field. It’s possible the Hoos go oh-fer in this stretch, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this year in Durham.
More key stretches: