It's Football Time in Tennessee: Vols vs. Virginia (9/2/23)
The Cavaliers, however, were a bad football team in 2022. And I mean really bad, arguably one of the five worst Power 5 teams in the country. Virginia finished 3-7, with all three wins coming against teams in the bottom half of college football by just about every metric.
Previously on Vols vs. Cavs: Overall, Tennessee is 3-1 all-time against Virginia, most recently winning the 1991 Sugar Bowl against UVa.
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Tennessee Offense vs. Virginia Defense (2022 Stats)
Tennessee Defense vs. Virginia Offense (2022 Stats)
Extraneous: The absolute #1 thing that pops into my mind when you say "Virginia" is the 1991 Sugar Bowl win against the Cavs, and not because of Tony Thompson's goaline vault into the endzone. It was UVa's helmets that burned their way into my 12-year-old mind at the time. They were bizarre in their simplicity: a white helmet, with no side logo, and an asymmetrical design in the center: a wide orange stripe with a smaller blue stripe next to it--but only on one side. This was novel to me because nearly every football helmet, if it has a stripe, has simply one central stripe riding the raised middle ridge that was a feature of the old Riddel model, or else a central stripe straddled by two additional stripes of an alternate color. If you wanna get buck wild, you might have a space between the center stripe and the flanking stripes that shows the color of the helmet. This has always been something that caught my attention because Tennessee is unique in this aspect too. Most helmet stripes do not have the girth, if you will, that the Vols' orange stripe does. It's one of the many aspects that makes us superior to the pencil-striped losers from, say, Tuscaloosa, for example.
In contrast, the Virginia helmet looked like a time-strapped equipment manager forgot to add the second blue stripe. And yet, it worked. It looked wrong, but right. Jazz musicians will tell you the notes you don't play are as important as the ones you do--and if that's true, Virginia's 1980s helmet was Count Basie. I think you can see pretty well what I'm talking about in this photo:
But not long after Tennessee defeated UVa in that Sugar Bowl, the Virginia football program hit a downturn, and the Cavs found themselves rebranding like many poor programs with little history do when times get tough.
By the turn of the century, Virginia was wearing on their helmets the design element I count my most loathed design in all of football: the pointy stripe. You know, the stripe that tapers off the farther back it goes on the helmet? It was a staple of late 90's/early 00's NFL teams--the Titans used it, Baltimore, Carolina. Denver uses a reverse version, thick at the back and tapered at the front, like a mullet. I instantly hate any helmet design that uses the pointy stripe. And ever since Virginia--whose brilliantly simple, novel helmet of 1991 lived rent-free in my head for a decade--morphed into this bastardization of football headgear, the Cavs have been dead to me. To their credit, UVa's current helmet design pays homage to the superior two-tone stripe of the 80s, but they've lost the unique asymmetry of the original. The current version is milquetoast in comparison. If the Vols can hang half a hundred on the Cavs, (or the 'Hoos as their fans call them--like Auburn, Virginia cannot just settle on one nickname and run with it, another reason to root against them) then 12-year-old me will feel a little better about the helmet betrayal of years ago.