2018 season: 8-5, 4-4 in the ACC (T-3rd in the Costal Division)
Head coach: Bronco Mendenhall (4th season)
Last year, Virginia secured its first winning season since 2011 as the Cavaliers’ defense propelled the team to an 8-5 record. After falling on the road to Indiana to even its record at 1-1, Virginia won five of its next six matchups, including a 16-13 victory against then-No. 16 Miami, to jump out to a 6-2 record. The Cavaliers closed out the regular season with a pair of three-point overtime road defeats to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. But the team regrouped in time for the Belk Bowl, as the Cavaliers shut out South Carolina 28-0 to earn their first bowl victory since 2005.
Returning for his second year as signal caller, Bryce Perkins will look to improve on a 2,680-yard, 25-touchdown season. The dual-threat quarterback also ran for 923 yards and recorded nine rushing touchdowns. Perkins finished fourth in the preseason ACC Player of the Year voting and second among quarterbacks behind only Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
The Cavalier defense will be headed by cornerback Bryce Hall, a potential first-round pick looking to shut down the opponent’s top receiver. Last season, the All-American and first team All-ACC selection led the nation with 22 pass breakups to go along with 62 tackles, two sacks and a pair of interceptions. Hall also finished tied for the most passes defended in the nation with 24.
To open up the 2019 slate, Virginia travels to Pittsburgh before hosting William & Mary, Florida State and Old Dominion at home. In their final game of September, the Cavaliers will take on preseason No. 9 Notre Dame and then face Miami on the road. Returning home, Virginia will host Duke before closing out their road schedule with Louisville and North Carolina. Georgia Tech, Liberty and in-state rival Virginia Tech will close out the regular season for a team that has its sights set on Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., for the ACC Championship game.