The Virginia Cavaliers could hit the over on their regular-season win total well before the ACC season comes to a close.
The ACC Coastal program has one of the easiest schedules in the FBS in September and October and it returns one of the most underrated quarterbacks from last season in Brennan Armstrong.
The back end of Virginia's schedule also sets it up for a few wins, as all of the major contenders in the Coastal Division have to come to Charlottesville over a three-week stretch.
First-year head coach Tony Elliott has some roster holes to fill, but his tenure should begin in a solid fashion because he has one of the ACC's best returning passing attacks to work with.
Virginia Football Schedule
September 3: vs. Richmond
September 10: at Illinois
September 17: vs. Old Dominion
September 23: at Syracuse
October 1: at Duke
October 8: vs. Louisville
October 20: at Georgia Tech
October 29: vs. Miami
November 5: vs. North Carolina
November 12: vs. Pittsburgh
November 19: vs. Coastal Carolina
November 26: at Virginia Tech
The Bet: Over 7 Regular Season Wins (+100)
Virginia's schedule may look easy at the front and intimidating at the back based on what its opponents have done in recent seasons.
However, I think it is actually a remarkably easy schedule compared to what the Cavaliers could have been dealt in the ACC.
The Cavaliers start with three road trips in their first five games, but Illinois, Syracuse and Duke are all expected to finish in the bottom third of the Big Ten and ACC, respectively.
Virginia should beat in-state foes Richmond and Old Dominion and come away with at least two wins from the three-game road swing. That already puts you at the halfway point for the over to hit.
Louisville is a potentially tricky foe at home on October 8, but the Cavaliers can cancel out the Cardinals' biggest threat in quarterback Malik Cunningham by airing the ball out through Brennan Armstrong.
Virginia returns its top three wide receivers from last season, Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson and Billy Kemp, all of whom had at least 725 receiving yards. Armstrong threw for 4,449 passing yards and 31 touchdowns.
That is a nice quartet to rely on as the running game finds its footing with a new backfield and offensive line. Armstrong and Co. should make the transition into the Elliott era easier than other changes across the country.
After Louisville, Virginia gets an extra few days to prepare for a road trip to Georgia Tech, who like Syracuse and Duke, are expected to reside in the ACC basement.
Virginia then gets one of the most intriguing home stretches in the country in late October and early November. Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Coastal Carolina all have to come to Charlottesville.
Miami is by far the most intimidating of those four opponents, but we do not know how quarterback Tyler Van Dyke will handle a tough road test until the Hurricanes' Week 3 trip to Texas A&M. If that goes poorly, the Hurricanes could have question marks surrounding them going into Charlottesville. Miami plays away at Virginia Tech in between the trips to A&M and Virginia, but that may not be as threatening of an environment as usual with the Hokies program down.
North Carolina and Pittsburgh have been impressive in recent seasons, but the current iterations of the Tar Heels and Panthers come loaded with questions. The Tar Heels may regress even more without Sam Howell. Pitt lost Kenny Pickett to the NFL, Jordan Addison to USC and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple to Nebraska. That has the recipe for regression.
Coastal Carolina may not even be the team we saw from the last two years, and even if the Chanticleers come in with a high-powered offense, Virginia has the offensive weapons to counter that.
Virginia's defense needs to hold up its end of the bargain so that the offense does not have to score 35-40 points a game to win.
The addition of Miami (Ohio) transfer Kameron Butler should help the pass-rush. Butler had eight sacks and three forced fumbles last season in the MAC.
The Cavaliers brought in a handful of other transfers to improve a defensive unit that gave up 31.8 points and 466 yards per game.
If Virginia cleans up its defense and continues to get strong production out of Armstrong, it should take advantage of its favorable schedule and get to at least eight wins.
The Cavaliers could even be a dark horse candidate to win the ACC Coastal. Miami is the favorite, but if Pitt and UNC don't live up to expectations, Virginia could be right there in the mix.
The Coastal title race may come down to the Miami-Virginia game on October 29. The Cavaliers could get some help from Clemson late in the season in the best-case scenario. Clemson hosts Miami on November 19 and a Tigers win could force the Coastal to come down to the final week of the regular season.