2009 schedule analysis: Virginia

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


Nonconference schedule
Combined 2008 record:
FCS teams: 1
BCS teams: 1
Bowl teams: 2

Sept. 5 William & Mary
Sept. 12 TCU
Sept. 19 at Southern Miss
Sept. 26 OPEN
Oct. 10 Indiana

Analysis: Funny how the lone BCS opponent -- Indiana -- is the one FBS school on the schedule that didn't go to a bowl game last year. Considering the Hoosiers had the worst pass defense in the Big Ten, the worst scoring defense, the worst total defense and the fewest passes intercepted, Virginia should have fun practicing its new spread offense.

Both TCU and Southern Miss won their respective bowl games, though, and will reveal early which direction the program is headed this season. For the Horned Frogs, it was their fourth straight bowl win, the longest streak in school history. TCU finished the season at No. 11 in the BCS standings. Virginia should come away with at least two wins here, but the road trip to Southern Miss won't be easy. The Golden Eagles ended the season with five straight wins and beat Sun Belt champion Troy 30-27 in overtime in the New Orleans Bowl, extending their streak to 15 straight winning seasons.

ACC schedule
Oct. 2 at North Carolina
Oct. 17 at Maryland
Oct. 24 Georgia Tech
Oct. 31 Duke
Nov. 7 at Miami
Nov. 14 Boston College
Nov. 21 at Clemson
Nov. 28 Virginia Tech

Analysis: If Virginia is going to get back to the postseason, it is going to have to win on the road, something the Cavaliers only managed once last year. And if they want to contend for the Coastal Division, one of those road wins will have to come against either UNC or Miami, if not both. If history repeats itself, though, and Virginia beats North Carolina, Maryland and Georgia Tech just like it did last season, the Cavaliers would once again give themselves the entire month of November to become bowl eligible. You would think Virginia could find one more win on the schedule, but the Cavaliers collapsed last season and finished with four straight losses.

Considering Dabo Swinney & Co. came into Charlottesville and won last year, the Tigers should fare just as well in Death Valley this season. The good news? Virginia gets Duke and rival Virginia Tech at home this year. (Yes, that's right, Duke.) Because Virginia lost its leading rusher, leading receiver and half its staff, though, odds are the Cavs are again trying to play the role of spoiler in the season finale.