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Teel Time: Virginia could become first ACC football team to go from worst to champion

Virginia CavaliersCollege SportsCollege FootballAtlantic Coast ConferenceFootballDuke Blue DevilsWake Forest Demon Deacons

Per Tuesday’s print column, a victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday would make Virginia the first ACC football team to improve its conference record by five games from the previous season.

The Cavaliers (8-3, 5-2) were 4-8, 1-7 last year.

Win Saturday and Virginia advances to the ACC title game against Clemson, where the Cavaliers could make more conference history.

None of the ACC’s 58 previous champions endured the conference’s worst league record the year prior. The Cavaliers, Duke and Wake Forest were 1-7 in 2010.

In sports parlance: Virginia could go from worst to first, unprecedented in the ACC.

Wake Forest tied for last in the Atlantic Division in 2005 before winning the league in ’06, but its 3-5  conference record was better than the 1-7 of Coastal Division Duke. Moreover, the Deacons crushed the Blue Devils that season 44-6.

“It’s not really a shock to us that we’re winning games,” receiver Kris Burd said. “It’s a 60-minute football game, and we’re a 60-minute team this year.”

“I’ll bet to you guys it’s shocking,” offensive tackle Oday Aboushi said. “But to us it’s encouraging. … We knew the hard work was going to pay off.”

Shocking, no. Surprising, yes.

Virginia felt like a .500 team in preseason. Maybe 5-7. Maybe 7-5. But certainly better.

But certainly not one that would crack the top 25 – the Cavaliers are ranked 24th this week by the Associated Press, their first poll appearance since 2007 – and would win at Florida State to set up a de facto Coastal Division championship game against defending ACC champion Virginia Tech.

The Hokies have won seven straight and 11 of the last 12 against the Cavaliers.

“It makes you cringe,” Aboushi said, “but at the same time it makes you hungry.”

I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP

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