I said in the game preview that I still have a hard time getting used to the idea of Miami as an every-year opponent. Maybe I shouldn't: this marks a slightly surprising four wins in the last six games against the Hurricanes. Even when I was going on about how nobody thinks UVA has a football program, that stat took me aback just a little. With UVA on a clear upward path and Miami looking down the barrel of a flamethrower, that might tilt even more in our favor in the years to come.
It is now Maryland week. It really took me until my fourth year at UVA to truly form the proper amount of hatred for Maryland - that was when Maryland's then-president, C.D. Mote, cast idiotic aspersions on the mental state of UVA students (specifically out-of-state ones) who chose UVA, claiming that they "don't know any better." As an out-of-state student, that planted the seed, and dealings with Maryland fans in the years since have watered and nourished it. It certainly helps that their new football coach follows perfectly in the steps of the old one in, in declaring that "Maryland doesn't lose to Virginia" right before they do.
To add to the fun, UVA is on the cusp of its goal - or at least, the one I and practically every fan of the program set for it. Bowl eligibility awaits if the outcome is favorable, and there's no better way to back up Mike London's recruiting message of a program on the rise than by actually being on the rise. Getting the prize against Maryland would be a nice little cherry on top - the more we beat them, the more they'll be picking through our leftovers in their own state. (P.S. - And if we win, Maryland is officially shut out of bowl consideration.)
Let's kick off the week's fun by running through the predictions.
- Barring any big plays of 50 yards or more (which are sometimes just random occurrences) none of UVA's running backs exceed their season rushing averages.
Clifton Richardson was the only one for whom this prediction came true, and no, I'm not taking 1/3 of a point.
- UVA runs for fewer than 153 yards total, giving us our second-worst day on the ground of the season.
This failing to come true was a monster reason why we won. We actually racked up over 200, again.
- Miami gets at least two sacks.
Another reason we won: Miami didn't get a single one.
- Kris Burd and Tim Smith get at least five catches each.
We're passing less than I thought we might, so this failed to come true as well. Burd and Smith did, however, tie for the team lead with three each, which accounted for half of all receptions, so I'm not taking credit in the final count but I think this one counts as a moral victory.
- Mike Rocco throws for over 250 yards.
No, but again, the only thing that prevented him doing so was the small number of actual attempts. Perry Jones's halfback pass pushed the total number to 263, and thanks to that 78-yard slant to Jones, Rocco averaged 11+ yards an attempt. Even taking that out, Rocco well exceeded his previous average of 6.52 YPA; minus the Jones slant, Rocco got to about 7.8. If we were averaging 7.8 yards per pass attempt, we'd be ranked 38th in nation instead of 83rd. So that's terrific production, and again I think I deserve a moral victory on this prediction.
- Lamar Miller gets less than 4.5 yards a carry.
He had 4.4, much of that coming after our defense was gearing to stop big plays instead of slamming the door on the run game at the line of scrimmage. For much of the game he was averaging about 1.5. Here's what I put in the game preview: " If it takes til the fourth quarter for Miller to get to 80 yards, the defense has done its job and we might even be winning the game." Check and check. Actually, he ended up with 70. Also, on fourth quarter down-and-distances of 4th and 2, Miller averaged exactly negative-1. Most important stat of the day.
- UVA picks off Jacory Harris at least once, but he throws more TDs than INTs anyway.
I think I'm gonna break this into two predictions and call it 1-for-2. As expected, Harris wasn't bad at all, but we didn't get an interception off of him.
So I go 2-for-8, which kinda sucks, but moral victories would've gotten me to .500. Season total is 22 for 59; 4-4 in outcome predictions; and I did win against the spread, thank you, where I'm now 4-4 as well.
Before we get into Senior Seasons it is my sad duty to report that the GP South Blue Devils fell 46-7 in the first round of the state playoffs; they had no answer for Martin Luther King's four-star running back, Cincy-bound Dennis Norfleet, who is ranked 241st in the Rivals 250. That ends the Blue Devils' season at 6-4, but I think hopes will be high for next year as we're riding a two-season playoff streak - although I think South will be moved up a division (to the second-highest of six) in their conference's biannual realignment, which will make the road a little tougher.
Anyway, here we go - Senior Seasons.
Victory Christian 68, Foundation Academy 0: Demeitre Brim accounted for three total touchdowns and 190 total yards. VCA is 7-2.
Bayside 31, Cox 8: Anthony Cooper scored once on a reverse and once on a 32-yard TD pass; the pass put Cooper's quarterback Deion Stitt over E.J. Manuel's passing yardage record at Bayside. Bayside is 8-2.
Landstown 20, Ocean Lakes 14: Eli Harold (Lakes) and Kyle Dockins (Landstown) each had a touchdown catch in the upset win. Both teams are now 7-2.
Norfolk Christian 35, Greenbrier Christian 0: Kwontie Moore had 112 total yards rushing and receiving, and three touchdowns, two of the former and one of the latter. Mario Nixon also caught a 65-yard TD pass. NCS is 7-2 and winners of the Tidewater Conference championship.
Varina 54, Glen Allen 7: Maurice Canady connected on 6 of 7 passes and threw three touchdowns. Varina is 7-1.
Ware County 39, Wayne County 3 (Greyson Lambert; Wayne is 4-4-1.)
Gonzaga 17, DeMatha 9 (Michael Moore; DeMatha is 6-3.)
St. Joseph 48, Bridgeton 0 (Max Valles; St. Joseph is 7-0.)
Hunterdon Central 35, Franklin 0 (Kye Morgan; Franklin is 5-2.)
Islip 35, Eastport-South Manor 0 (Sean Karl; ESM is 3-5.)
Malvern Prep 14, Episcopal 0 (Michael Mooney; Malvern is 7-1.)
Central Bucks South 28, Pennridge 14 (Matt Johns; CB South is 6-3.)
Stratford 35, Waller 20 (Kelvin Rainey; Stratford is 6-3.)
Hampton 14, Kecoughtan 0 (Jamall Brown; Hampton is 7-2.)
Green Run 34, Kellam 8 (Mark Hall; Green Run is 4-5.)
Hermitage 41, Godwin Mills 7 (Andre Miles-Redmond; Hermitage is 8-0.)
Wayne County 21, Liberty County 20: Greyson Lambert was 13-of-21 passing with 108 yards and three touchdowns.
So here's where we stand after this week's play - the following players have finished with their regular seasons:
C.J. Moore - Buford (GA)
Greyson Lambert - Wayne County (GA)
Sean Karl - Eastport-South Manor (NY)
Anthony Cooper - Bayside (VA)
Moore/Nixon/Wahee/Wynn - Norfolk Christian (VA)
Lambert's and Karl's teams failed to qualify for whatever version of the playoffs their particular state has. (In Karl's case it's even weirder because Long Island doesn't play with the rest of New York state.) Lambert and Wayne County finished 4-4-1 and lost a tiebreaker with two other teams in their region. ESM is a newish team and just isn't very good; they finish 3-5.
The others (Moore, Cooper, and the NCS boys) await as-yet-unknown playoff opponents. At least I think so in the case of NCS. Buford is a powerhouse and it'll take a major, major upset for any team in Georgia's AA division to prevent them from winning a fifth straight state title. Bayside will be on the road in their first playoff week.
The vast majority of the rest of the recruits finish up their regular seasons next week, with only four relevant schools playing the regular season beyond that. Most of them will make it into some form of playoff, so we still have quite a bit of this feature left in us.
Two conference-carousel stories that bear watching:
-- First is the lawsuit filed by West Virginia in order to get out of the Big East's 27-month notice and hustle on over to the Big 12, because you know that "West Virginia" is always the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the southern Midwest. I have no idea what leg they think they have to stand on, but obviously, if West Virginia can engineer its way out of the Little East in time for next football season, you know that Syracuse and Pitt can't be far behind.
-- Second is the Teel article from last week that suggests Notre Dame and the ACC aren't such farfetched marriage partners after all.
I've long wanted Notre Dame to either sit on their independent selves forever or join the Big Ten where they belong. I mean, they're right in the middle of the Big Ten footprint. They play Big Ten teams all the time. (Well, Michigan, MSU, and Purdue, mostly.) So it's with a great deal of surprise that I find myself warming up to the idea of Notre Dame in the ACC.
Geographically speaking, I'd really prefer if ACC expansion meant the only required change to the logo was to add a couple stars. Notre Dame sits outside that oval. Plus I like traditional games. But that particular Rubicon has been crossed so damn hard, and very long ago. If Notre Dame were the 15th team in the ACC it would hardly matter who the 16th was; the ACC would clearly have cemented its place at the big-boy table. (Not that we need Notre Dame for that, mind you. I've been preaching for years that the ACC would not and will not be a target for Big Ten or SEC expansion, and it still won't.)
Still, it makes for a hell of a conference. I suppose UConn would be the logical 16th team, but they'd have to show the ACC that their graduation issue is on path for recovery. Right now their 2013 tourney eligibility is in serious jeopardy because of that, thanks to the new rules just implemented.
But what really warms the cockles of my heart is the possibility that a 16-team football conference with a 4x4 pod system would greatly improve the we-never-play-those-guys-any-more problem. If they did it right. I don't hold out a great deal of hope that they will. Remember that one of my largest criticisms of playoff-wanters is that they're confusing wanting a playoff with wanting their playoff. Just as there will be a lot of disappointed people when a playoff is eventually formed, I imagine I'm likely to be let down by a future 16-team conference and its schedule. Still, it doesn't stop me from having ideas of my own, which I will let you know about.....tomorrow.
Plus, I mean obviously Notre Dame has decent hoops, and not only that but they'd also be lacrosse team #6. Hello autobid that we don't need.
-- Oday Aboushi is the ACC lineman of the week. That makes four times in nine weeks a UVA lineman has been chosen, with Aboushi and Anthony Mihota splitting the honors evenly. Raise your hand if you saw 4-of-9 coming, and then keep it there if you thought that would happen without Morgan Moses or Austin Pasztor being named. I don't see any hands.
-- Are you voting for Chase Minnifield every day? Why not?