Staff Predictions: Virginia
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, September 27, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
I was very wrong about this team. While I hesitate to place them definitively in a ranking of other football powerhouses, one thing is certain — this team can compete, and that’s more than could be said after the Cotton Bowl last year. Virginia’s a strong program that’s on the rise, but coming off an emotional loss in Athens will only fuel Brian Kelly’s team, and there’s nothing Bryce Perkins and company can do. Expect them to look to make a statement in Notre Dame stadium.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 44, Virginia 22
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
The Irish proved that they are a top-five football team last weekend in Athens. They outplayed Georgia for three quarters total on the Bulldogs’ menacing home turf, and they showed that no matter the Power Five conference, the Irish are here to hang with the big dogs. On top of that, if you’re on that team, you’ve got to be angry. You had a chance to prove everyone wrong, and it slipped right out of your fingers. I think the Irish will come out with some fire this weekend, and I expect them to run up the score. It’s their only chance of being taken seriously come December.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 50, Virginia 23
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
For most teams, I would be afraid of a game like this against a quality Virginia team right after a tough, emotional loss at Georgia. However, I see the Irish responding in this game and those for the foreseeable future the way they responded after the Georgia loss in 2017, by going on a tear and showing the nation that the showing against the Bulldogs wasn’t a fluke. The way the linebacking corps and offensive line stepped up against Georgia, after their rough start to the season, was incredibly reassuring. With Cole Kmet back for his second game of the season and Michael Young expected to return to action, the Irish are getting closer and closer to being at full strength as the season reaches its midpoint.
That said, a letdown is inevitable after the atmosphere of Georgia. The Cavaliers play hard defensively and, even though their offense has been sloppy, quarterback Bryce Perkins just finds a way to make plays. Expect UVA to get some stops against the Irish, and Perkins is going to will his way to scores. However, the Irish know they have to show out on both sides of the ball and be convincing in their wins to have a shot at the Playoff, so they’ll put pressure on a shaky Virginia offensive line on one end and rack up points on the other.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Virginia 21
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
Notre Dame is mad. Twice in the past three years, a win against Georgia has slipped through their fingers. You can’t expect to escape Athens alive with 12 penalties and two picks, but all things considered, the Irish put up a much better fight than anyone anticipated.
Fresh off of that tough road trip, this team is going to be looking to let off some steam — and unfortunately for Virginia, they’ll be on the receiving end. Sure, the Cavaliers are having a pretty good season and have even crept into the AP Poll, but the Irish will send them packing with a decisive beat-down Saturday. Emulating the swagger they showed against New Mexico, Notre Dame will play like they have nothing to lose because frankly, they don’t. The Irish will show that last weekend wasn’t a fluke, and it’s going to be fun to watch.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, Virginia 17
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
The Cavaliers are solid with an excellent quarterback, but I believe this to be a team that can be defeated relatively handily. They have trailed three out of their undefeated four games at halftime, so the Irish will need to come out fast and dig the Cavaliers into a hole they cannot escape. With the Irish getting Michael Young back on offense, this is exactly what the Irish offense will be able to do. Back in the comfort of their home stadium, expect Notre Dame to put up points in this one.
The question on defense will be the pass rush. Virginia has allowed seven sacks this season, and it is time for Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem to start producing sacks. The pair have combined for just one sack this season, and while they have been solid in other areas, it is hard to be enthused about those results. If that pair can get going in this game, it is going to be a long day for the Cavaliers. Virginia keeps it respectable, but it’s Irish wire to wire.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 35, Virginia 17