Virginia prepares for road test against Pittsburgh

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Friday Night Blitz Team Pages:

UVA Opens 130th Season of Football
• The University of Virginia opens its 130th season of football Saturday against Pitt. UVA also opened the 2006 season at Heinz Field against the Panthers. 
• It is the 89th season the Cavaliers have played in Scott Stadium. 
• UVA is 82-38-9 (.671) all-time in season openers.
• The Cavaliers are 6-17-2 (.280) all-time when opening the season on the road. Saturday is UVA’s first season opener on the road since 2015 when the Cavaliers played at then-No. 13 UCLA. 
• UVA’s last season-opening win the road was at Temple (44-14) in 2003.
• In his career as a head coach, Bronco Mendenhall is 10-4 in 14 season-openers. 

Virginia at NFL Stadiums
• Virginia is 11-20 all-time in venues that at the time of the contest were active NFL stadiums. 
• Seven of the 14 NFL stadiums UVA has played in are still active today.
• After losing seven games in a row in NFL stadiums, UVA snapped the streak with a 28-0 triumph over South Carolina in the 2018 Belk Bowl (Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium).
• UVA is 0-4 all-time at Heinz Field.
• Virginia also plays at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium this season, when the Cavaliers play the Miami Hurricanes on Oct. 11 (Fri.).

Five Top Storylines
• UVA’s season opener also serves as its ACC opener for the 18th time in program history. The last time this happened was 2003 (vs. Duke).
• Bronco Mendenhall led UVA to back-to-back bowls (2017 & 2018) for the first time since the Cavaliers went to four bowl games in a row from 2002 to 2005.
• Last season quarterback Bryce Perkins became one of two FBS players (Kyler Murray, OU, 2018) since 2000 in a season to complete at least 64 percent of their passes, while also throwing for 2,000+ yards, rushing for 900+ yards and being responsible for at least 30 touchdowns.
• UVA is coming off a 28-0 win against South Carolina in the 2018 Belk Bowl. It was the first time a non-SEC team shutout an SEC team in a bowl game since the 1975 Gator Bowl.
• UVA is looking to win back-to-back-to-back season openers for the first time since winning four in a row from 2010-13. UVA beat William & Mary, 28-10, to open 2017 and topped Richmond, 42-13, to start 2018.

College Football Turns 150 in 2019
• College football embarks on its 150th season in 2019. The first college football game took place on Nov. 6, 1869 when Princeton visited Rutgers.
• The special CFB150 logo will appear on uniform patches, helmet decals, field stencils, public service announcements, TV telecasts, social media channels and numerous other places during the season.
• Virginia is celebrating its 130th season of fielding a college 
football team. UVA’s first college football game was on Nov. 20, 1888 when the Cavaliers shutout Pantops Academy, 20-0.
• Virginia has fielded at football team every season since, except for 1917 and 1918 due to World War I.

Noting Virginia in ACC Openers
• Virginia begins its 66th season competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday against Pitt.
• Virginia holds a 26-39 all-time record in conference openers.
• This is the ninth season over the last 14 years that Virginia opens ACC play on the road.
• This is the third time UVA has opened ACC play against Pitt since the Panthers joined the league in 2013. UVA also opened up 2013 and 2015 ACC play at Heinz Field against the Panthers.

The Series vs. The Panthers
•  Pitt leads the all-time series by an 8-3 margin.
•  Between 1956 and 2012 UVA and Pitt only met twice in the regular season and once in a bowl game. Once Pitt joined the ACC in 2013, the two programs have met every season as members of the ACC Coastal Division.  
• Until UVA’s 44-14 win in the 2007 Scott Stadium meeting, Pittsburgh had won all three regular-season meetings. The Panthers won 26-0 in Charlottesville in 1953, 18-7 in Pittsburgh in 1955 and 38-13 in Pittsburgh in 2006.
• Virginia’s 23-16 win over Pittsburgh in the 2003 Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., was one of the most closely contested games of the series.
• UVA’s Tony Franklin played a big role on defense in the bowl game to end Larry Fitzgerald’s 18-game streak with a touchdown reception. 
• The teams seesawed back and forth in the first half with Virginia holding a 17-13 lead at halftime. The second half featured only field goals in UVA’s seven-point win. Matt Schaub closed his stellar career by capturing MVP honors after passing for 244 yards. Former Pittsburgh Steeler tight end Heath Miller had a big day for UVA with four receptions for 84 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown reception from Schaub late in the first quarter for the game’s first score.

More on the Pitt Series During the Lean 1950’s
•  The 26-0 loss in 1953 remains one of the worst offensive performances in the modern era of UVA football. The Cavaliers recorded three first downs, an all-time low, and had just 43 yards of total offense, their second-lowest modern-day total.
• Pittsburgh scored on its first possession 5:52 into the contest and scored in every quarter to win.
• In 1955, UVA ended more than 80 scoreless minutes against Pitt when halfback Ralph Kneeland scored UVA’s first touchdown in the series on an eight-yard run at the 9:39 mark of the second quarter. That score gave UVA a brief 7-6 lead, but Pitt halfback Lou Cimarolli scored the game-winner on a 32-yard dash midway through the third quarter.

Pittsburgh Boys Return Home
• Virginia has two student-athletes on its roster that hail from Pittsburgh. ILB Zane Zandier (Thomas Jefferson HS) and OT Derek Devine (North Allegheny HS) return home on Saturday for UVA’s season opener against the Panthers.
• OT Ja’Quay Hubbard is from Sharpsville, Pa., which is roughly 75 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Bronco Mendenhall Led Virginia to Back-to-back Bowls
• After playing in the Military Bowl in 2017, Bronco Mendenhall led Virginia to back-to-back bowls in 2018 for the first time since 2004 and 2005 after the Cavaliers earned a Belk Bowl invite. 
• Mendenhall’s Cavalier squad shutout South Carolina, 28-0, in the 2018 Belk Bowl to give UVA its first bowl victory since the 2005 Music City Bowl. UVA’s shutout performance was the first over an SEC team in a bowl game by a non-SEC team since the 1975 Gator Bowl.

Bronco Mendenhall is in Special Company
• Bronco Mendenhall is one of three active coaches that has inherited at least two programs in his career that were coming off a losing season and in year one, or year two, played in a bowl game. The others to do it are Nick Saban (Alabama, LSU, Michigan State) and Mark Dantonio (Michigan State/Cincinnati).
• Mendenhall inherited a BYU team that went 5-6 in 2004 and in his first season the Cougars went 6-6 and played in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl. Mendenhall took over a Virginia team that went 4-8 in 2015 and took the Cavaliers to the 2017 Military Bowl in year No. 2, finishing 6-7.

Returning Defense Looks to build upon strong 2018
• While the UVA defense lost three players that are currently in the NFL, CB Tim Harris (49ers), OLB Chris Peace (Chargers) and SS Juan Thornhill(Chiefs), the unit returns 11 Cavaliers that started at least five games in 2018.
• The defense shined in 2018, finishing No. 12 in the nation in team passing efficiency defense (107.62), No. 16 in passing yards allowed (183.0), No. 20 in the nation in team defense (330.5) and No. 20 in scoring defense (20.1). 
• UVA returns defensive starts in 2018 from Bryce Hall (13), Charles Snowden (13), Eli Hanback (12), Brenton Nelson (12), Jordan Mack (9), Zane Zandier (8), Robert Snyder (6), Mandy Alonso (5), Joey Blount (5), Darrius Bratton (5) and Jordan Redmon (5).
• UVA also returns Chris Moore, who had six start in 2017 but missed 2018 with an injury.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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