1. Getting There Really Was Half The Battle
Yes, there’s a little nod to G.I. Joe there — this was the Military Bowl, after all — but first and foremost, let’s give credit to the strides that Virginia made in Year 2 under Mendenhall. It went from winning two games in 2016, including one in ACC play, to starting 5-1 and improved by two wins in-conference.
Granted, it was a struggled to get to that sixth victory this season, with the Cavaliers dropping their first two chances — 41-10 to Boston College and then 31-14 to Pitt — but they led then-unbeaten Miami 28-14 in the second half on the road and battled Virginia Tech — a team Virginia hasn’t beaten since 2003 — in falling 10-0. A season ago, the the Hurricanes dropped the Cavaliers by 20 and the Hokies dealt them a 52-10 loss.
Progress was made in 2017, even if it ended with a season-low 175 yards of offense and saw the defense allow 450-plus yards for the third time the season.