Cavs A Tough Test

Has the worm turned for Mike London and the Virginia football team?

With last week's 24-21 win over Georgia Tech, suddenly the Cavaliers' bid to make a bowl game for the first time since 2007 appears much stronger. Virginia reaches the midpoint of its season with a 4-2 record, and with at least two games remaining on its schedule where the Cavaliers have a good chance to win.

One of those games takes place this week, as the Cavaliers host N.C. State in the conclusion of a four-game homestand. Heading into the season, this four-game stretch at home looked pivotal with regard to Virginia's bowl hopes. The Cavs have proven up to the task thus far, and closing the homestand with three straight wins would be a huge boost heading into the meat of the ACC schedule. Not only that, it would keep Virginia in the thick of the Coastal Division race -- something that was not expected of this team in preseason balloting.

Defeating the nationally-ranked and previously undefeated Yellow Jackets was a huge feather in the cap of London, but he and the Cavaliers aren't taking anything for granted going against N.C. State, which snapped a two-game skid with an Oct. 8 win over Central Michigan before taking its open date.

"You celebrate the moment, but in a football season, it's not over until you're playing the last game. Then you start celebrating and reflecting on the accomplishments," London said.

Virginia had the benefit of an extra week of preparation before facing Georgia Tech. This time, N.C. State is the team coming off the bye. The time off allowed several of the Wolfpack's injured defensive players to get healthy.

-- The win over Georgia Tech, which was ranked No. 12 at the time, marked the highest ranked foe to fall for Virginia since the Cavaliers beat No. 4 Florida State in 2005.

-- Virginia changed up its routine heading into the Georgia Tech game. The Cavaliers typically run a light practice during the Thursday of a game week, but instead Virginia's scout-team offense ran 86 plays against the defense to prepare the Cavs for the challenge against the Yellow Jackets.

-- Beating a ranked opponent didn't work out very well for last season's Virginia team, in the long run. After topping No. 22 Miami 24-19 on Oct. 30 of last year, the Cavaliers didn't win another game, going 0-4 during the month of November.

SERIES HISTORY: N.C. State leads Virginia 33-21-1 (last meeting, 2007, 29-24 N.C. State).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: QB Michael Rocco threw a pick-six interception but recovered to continue to manage the Virginia offense well. The Cavaliers attempted 19 passes in the 24-21 win over Georgia Tech, a season low. Heading into the game, Virginia was averaging 40.2 pass attempts per game.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Virginia held Georgia Tech to season lows in rushing yards (272), passing yards (24), first downs (17), passes completed (2), total offense (296 yards) and scoring (21). More importantly, the Cavs limited Georgia Tech to just five plays of 20 or more yards. That's a huge leap for a team that got gashed for too many big plays in losses to North Carolina and Southern Miss in September.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We felt in this situation we could run against them. That's what we did. We were able to do that, and we were able to do it successfully." -- Virginia coach Mike London, after his team ran for a season-high 272 yards against Georgia Tech

N.C. State at Virginia, Oct. 22 -- The Cavaliers try to build on the momentum of their upset of nationally-ranked Georgia Tech against a Wolfpack team that is still seeking its first ACC win of the season. A victory would put Virginia one win away from obtaining bowl eligibility.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Stop the Wolfpack ground game. In the history of this series, N.C. State has won only twice when running for less than 125 yards as a team -- in the 1944 and 2007 meetings. The Wolfpack are 17-1 against Virginia since 1937 when topping 200 rushing yards as a team.

RB Perry Jones --
Virginia's leading rusher, Jones has topped 100 yards in consecutive games following his career-high 149-yard performance in the 24-21 win over Georgia Tech last week.

CB Chase Minnifield -- After seeing opponents throw around him in Virginia's first four ballgames, the Cavs' All-ACC defensive back now has picked off a pass in consecutive ballgames. Is it any coincidence the Cavs also have won both those contests? Doubtful.

P Jimmy Howell -- Virginia's punter faces a real challenge this week. N.C. State has the top punt return man in the conference in T.J. Graham, who has 148 yards on eight returns and ran one back for a touchdown in the Wolfpack's season opener with Liberty.

-- The 10 tackles tallied by Virginia LB Steve Greer marked his highest total in an individual game since he racked up that many in 2009.

-- WR Tim Smith snared a touchdown pass against Georgia Tech, the second of his career and the first since grabbing a TD against Southern Miss in 2009.

-- DTs Matt Conrath (10) and Nick Jenkins (7) both set or matched career highs in tackles against the Yellow Jackets.

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