Year two of the Mike London era brought Virginia to a bowl game and the verge of the ACC title game. The Cavaliers can finish the year on a high in the Georgia Dome with a win over the defending but depleted BCS national champions.
Well it was a good party Losing two first round draft talents, including top overall pick Cam Newton, meant Auburn’s defense of their BCS and SEC titles was always unlikely to end well. The Tigers had some good times, including a win at South Carolina that ultimately cost the Gamecocks a return trip to the SEC title game. Neither Clint Moseley nor Barrett Trotter ever looked the part replacing Newton in Gus Malzahn’s electrifying offense. Malzahn is the next big name leaving the loveliest village on the plains.
He’s off to replace Hugh Freeze at Arkansas State. As an aside, how awesome must it be to follow the Red Wolves right about now? They won 10 games this year, are loaded with talent, and now have one of the best offensive minds in the game as their new top man. I’m sure fans in Auburn will look to the Sun Belt for answers if Malzahn’s departure leads to bad times for the Gene Chizik regime.
Back and hungry for glory Mike London knows how to get the most of the talent at his disposal. He took Richmond to the school’s first ever national title in his first year with the Spiders in 2008. College Football betting fans know the step up from FCS to FBS isn’t easy but London has acquitted himself admirably. Despite going only 4-8 in 2010, Virginia pushed USC to the brink in the Coliseum and shocked the U in conference play. More was to come in 2011, with UVA getting to within one win of a division title. That decisive loss, admittedly, was a crushing home defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech. London knows his team isn’t quite ready to challenge their in-state rivals but a bowl win over a SEC foe could do wonders for recruiting.
The verdict In a bowl sponsored by a fast-food outlet, always go with the hungrier team. Auburn’s offense isn’t sure which way to turn, the defense isn’t inspiring, and the head coach is entering a spring of uncertainty despite being just a year removed from winning the biggest game of them all. Virginia has a coach who knows how to drain every last drop of talent from the players around him and thirst for post-season glory. A win here and this program will relish that trip to Blacksburg next season. I like Virginia to win the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
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