ACC All Access: Where does No. 2 Oregon stack up against some of the other top teams Virginia has faced?

Opportunities like the one Virginia has Saturday against No. 2 Oregon don’t come often. In the last 18 seasons, U.Va. has played an opponent ranked first or second just once – and No. 1 Florida State got the best of the Cavaliers in that 1999 meeting with a 35-10 win in Charlottesville.

Of course, the last time U.Va. knew what it felt like to beat one of the ultra-elite in college football, the experience also involved FSU. In 1995, U.Va. beat No. 2 FSU 33-28 in Charlottesville in what is considered the biggest win in the history of the Cavaliers’ program.

That ’95 U.Va. team was much better equipped than this season’s Cavaliers’ team. Coming into that FSU game, U.Va. was 6-3, ranked No. 24 and led by running back Tiki Barber, second-year starting quarterback Mike Groh, linebacker James Farrior and defensive back Percy Ellsworth.

U.Va. doesn’t boast anywhere near that kind of resume this season, but that doesn’t stop senior left tackle Morgan Moses from believing that the big program-changing victory is right around the corner.

With U.Va. (1-0) coming off a 4-8 season, and working with a new starting quarterback, new starters at 60 percent of its offensive line positions and two of its linebacker spots, what would make Moses think the Cavaliers have a shot against the Ducks this weekend?

He thinks about the last time U.Va. played a Pac-12 heavyweight.

“It’s just another chance to put us on the map,” Moses said. “I think about our first year when we played USC down in California.

“The outcome was a little different than we expected. It just shows when we bring big-time schools into Charlottesville or we go out there, we can play with the best.”


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U.Va. lost in the second game of the 2010 season – Moses’ freshman year – at No. 16 USC 17-14, but make no mistake – the Oregon team U.Va. will see this weekend is head and shoulders above that ’10 USC team.

In coach Mike London’s four seasons in Charlottesville, U.Va. is 3-4 against top 25 ranked opponents, including 2-1 at home. The biggest of those wins against ranked teams under London came in 2011, when U.Va. beat No. 12 Georgia Tech 24-21 in Charlottesville.

None of those seven foes featured the kind of offensive talent and playmaking ability that Oregon possesses this season, not even in 2011 when No. 6 Virginia Tech beat U.Va. 38-0 in Charlottesville with running back David Wilson, wide receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale and a much more efficient Logan Thomas at quarterback than the one that’s in Blacksburg now.

In terms of talent, this season’s Oregon offense more closely resembles the ’08 USC program that came to Charlottesville ranked No. 3 and left with a 52-7 win behind quarterback Mark Sanchez, receiver Damian Williams and running backs Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight.

As far as offensive style of play is concerned, U.Va. may have never  faced an offense jam-packed with as much speed as the one Oregon will bring this weekend with quarterback Marcus Mariota, receiver Josh Huff and running backs De’Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall.

Oh, and in case you’re interested in such things, USC closed as a 19 1/2-point favorite in ’08 at U.Va. Right now, Oregon is a 23-point favorite. FSU in ’95? It was a 19-point favorite. When it comes to expectations, take what you want from that information.


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