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Takeaways From the 2023 Virginia Football Schedule

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Breaking down some key observations from the release of the 2023 UVA football schedule

The complete 12-game schedule for the 2023 Virginia football season was released on Monday night, giving UVA fans plenty to chew on as the long seven-month countdown to college football season begins. As the Cavaliers prepare for their second season under head coach Tony Elliott, let's break down some key takeaways from the 2023 UVA football schedule. 

2023 Virginia Football Schedule

Saturday, September 2nd: vs. Tennessee (Nashville, TN)

Saturday, September 9th: vs. JMU (Charlottesville, VA)

Saturday, September 16th: at Maryland (College Park, MD)

Friday, September 22nd: vs. NC State (Charlottesville, VA)

Saturday, September 30th: at Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)

Saturday, October 7th: vs. William & Mary (Charlottesville, VA)

Bye Week

Saturday, October 21st: at North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)

Saturday, October 28th: at Miami (Miami, FL)

Saturday, November 4th: vs. Georgia Tech (Charlottesville, VA)

Thursday, November 9th: at Louisville (Louisville, KY)

Saturday, November 18th: vs. Duke (Charlottesville, VA)

Saturday, November 25th: vs. Virginia Tech (Charlottesville, VA)

Here's a few takeaways from the 2023 UVA football schedule:

Virginia's 2023 schedule doesn't do the Cavaliers any favors.

When looking at the 2023 Virginia football schedule, the first thought from many UVA fans, including some of the most optimistic of the bunch, is where are the wins going to come from? Virginia's schedule in 2022 was billed as one of the easier slates in all of college football and an opportunity for Tony Elliott to rack up some wins in his first season leading the program. Well, the Cavaliers went 3-7, due in large part to their own shortcomings and disappointing play, but also as a result of their competition outperforming expectations. Illinois, Syracuse, and Duke each fielded better teams than anticipated and Louisville recovered from a slow start to win five of its last seven games, a turnaround that began with a 34-17 victory at UVA. 

In 2023, there will be no misconceptions about UVA having a potentially advantageous schedule. Virginia is set to face six teams that appeared in bowl games last season and eight of the 12 opponents on UVA's schedule finished above .500 in the regular season. UVA's two in-state non-conference matchups could be extremely troublesome, as the Cavaliers are set to face JMU, who went 8-3 in its first season at the FBS level in 2022, and William & Mary, who went 11-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. 

Of course, just as UVA's opponents overperformed vs. expectations in 2022, the reverse could end up being the case in 2023. But at least on paper, with Virginia's 2023 opponents having a combined 88-62 record last season, this schedule looks to be one of the tougher slates in college football this fall. 

Year 1 of the new 3-5-5 ACC scheduling model

The Atlantic Coast Conference made the move to abolish divisions last year, a change which takes effect with the 2023 season. Unfortunately, that means the end of Coastal Chaos as the two participants in the ACC Championship Game will be the top two teams in the overall ACC standings. Still, Virginia is set to face five of its six former Coastal rivals this season with the exception of Pittsburgh, who is not on Virginia's schedule for the first time since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2013. 

Under the new 3-5-5 ACC scheduling model, each team has three conference opponents it will face every season, and the other ten league teams will be on the schedule twice during a four-year cycle, once at home and once on the road. Virginia's three primary opponents are North Carolina, Louisville, and Virginia Tech. This season, UVA will also face NC State, Boston College, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Duke in conference play. 

One of the benefits of the new ACC scheduling model is that teams will no longer go several years without playing teams from the opposite division. This season, Virginia will play at Boston College for the first time since 2010, ending the longest active period UVA has gone without playing on the road against a specific ACC opponent. The Cavaliers and Eagles have met just seven times since Boston College joined the ACC in 2005. 

Virginia gives up a home game to play a "neutral-site" game against Tennessee in Nashville.

In what is sure to be an emotional season-opener with Virginia taking the field for the first time since the deaths of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry, the Cavaliers will not have the luxury of being distracted as they face a Tennessee squad that went 11-2 last season and defeated Clemson handily in the Orange Bowl. This is the first time that UVA is opening a football season at a neutral site since starting the 1989 season at the Meadowlands against Notre Dame. But, this matchup can hardly be considered a neutral-site game, except in the extremely technical sense. Expect an overwhelming home-field advantage for the Volunteers at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

As a result of Virginia and Tennessee scheduling this game in Nashville, UVA will play only six home games in 2023 as opposed to the usual seven. For more on the fascinating story behind how this non-conference game ended up on Virginia's schedule, read this story: BYU Cancellations and Buyouts: Inside the Scheduling of the Virginia-Tennessee Game

The Hoos will certainly have their fallen teammates on their minds in this game, which will ideally result in them playing inspired football, but it's difficult to imagine Virginia having much of a chance in what is essentially a road game against a Tennessee team that nearly made the College Football Playoff last season. 

Brennan Armstrong and some familiar coaching faces return when NC State comes to Charlottesville on September 22nd.

The Friday-night matchup between Virginia and NC State in week 4 in Charlottesville will be one of the more intriguing games of the ACC football season, as it carries several entertaining storylines. Brennan Armstrong transferred to NC State last month after spending three years as the starting quarterback at Virginia, ending his UVA career as the program's all-time leader in total offense, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. In his final season of college football, Armstrong will play one last game at Scott Stadium, but he will suit up for the Wolfpack and look to defeat his former team in what is sure to be an uncomfortable and sad experience for several UVA fans who loved and supported Armstrong in his time at Virginia.

With that said, it's hard to argue against Armstrong's decision to join the Wolfpack, as it gives him a chance to revitalize his career as he reunites with his former offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who joined the NC State coaching staff after spending the 2022 season at Syracuse. Anae and Armstrong rewrote the offensive record books at Virginia in 2021, a level of success that Armstrong was unable to replicate under Tony Elliott and Des Kitchings. NC State also has former UVA offensive line coach Garett Tujague on the coaching staff, as Tujague left the Cavaliers after seven seasons to join the Wolfpack last month. 

If the game itself doesn't deliver on entertainment value, the presence of Brennan Armstrong, Robert Anae, and Garett Tujague on the sideline opposite Virginia will give this game plenty of intrigue and flavor. 

Old ACC rivals clash when the Hoos battle the Terps in College Park.

On September 16th in College Park, Virginia will face Maryland for the first time since 2013, the Terrapins' final season in the ACC before they left for the Big Ten. UVA and Maryland faced off in every season between 1957 and 2013, but have not played since then. Maryland will then play Virginia in Charlottesville in the 2024 football season. Next to Virginia Tech, this game likely represents the game with the deepest and most intense rivalry implications as the Cavaliers and Terrapins renew a bitter and competitive rivalry. A decade without facing each other in football isn't likely to temper the heat of this rivalry, especially between the fan bases. Win or lose, it will be good to see Maryland and Virginia battling on the gridiron again. 

Saturday-Thursday turnaround

For the first time since 2006, Virginia will play a Thursday-night game in the week immediately following a Saturday game. Just five days will separate the Cavaliers' game against Georgia Tech on November 4th in Charlottesville from their next game on the road at Louisville on Thursday, November 9th. In many instances, teams who have a Thursday-night game on their schedule will have their bye week the weekend preceding it in order to maintain an appropriate amount of recovery/rest time for the athletes. That will be one of the more difficult weeks for Tony Elliott's Cavaliers in the 2023 season. 

The Commonwealth Clash returns in 2023. 

Canceling the 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Clash was absolutely the right decision as the Virginia football program and the entire UVA community mourned the tragic deaths of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D'Sean Perry. The support and solidarity shown by the Virginia Tech community in the days and weeks following the shooting was a powerful and moving sign of the mutual respect between the two schools that goes well above any sporting rivalry. 

With that said, the Hoos and the Hokies will certainly be ready to battle once again for possession of the Commonwealth Cup, with UVA looking to snap a two-game losing streak against Virginia Tech. Due to the cancellation of last year's game, the Cavaliers will get to host the matchup at Scott Stadium for the second time in a row. Given how tough Virginia's schedule appears to be on paper, the regular season finale against Virginia Tech could serve as a golden opportunity to salvage what may be a long and difficult season for the Wahoos. Ask most UVA fans and they'll say the Tech game is infinitely more important than any other game on Virginia's schedule. That looks to be especially true once again next season as Tony Elliott and Brent Pry face each other for the first time as head coaches of these two Commonwealth football programs. 

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