The Oregon Ducks, whose dynamic, warp-speed, spread offense has averaged at least 46 points per game the past three years, will play the Cavaliers at Scott Stadium on Sept. 7, the schools announced Monday. Virginia will visit Oregon in 2016.
"We initiated a conversation with Oregon about a potential game in 2017 in Europe," said Virginia executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver in a statement. "As the conversation progressed it became clear we might have an opportunity to initiate a series in 2013 starting in Charlottesville. We saw that as a great opportunity for our program and our fans.
"The chance to add Oregon presents us with the unique opportunity to have eight home games in a single season. Kicking off the season against BYU on Aug. 31 and playing Oregon on Sept. 7 will be a challenge, but one that Coach (Mike) London has been on board with since the very beginning. I am hopeful that our fans will embrace this schedule and create a home field advantage to help make our team successful."
Oliver said he hopes to play the Penn State game in a later year.
"I'm looking forward to playing eight home games next season," London said, also via statement. "We want our players to be able to compete against great teams. Bringing BYU and Oregon to Scott Stadium to start the season will be a tremendous challenge, but one our team is preparing for now and is very excited to take on."
The Ducks were 46-7 the past four seasons under coach Chip Kelly, who earlier this month left for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Oregon then promoted offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to replace Kelly.
In Kelly’s four seasons, the Ducks played in two Rose Bowls, a national title game and a Fiesta Bowl.
Helfrich inherits an offense that started only three seniors in a 35-17 Fiesta Bowl rout of Kansas State that concluded a 12-1 season and elevated the Ducks to No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll. Oregon’s only defeat was to Stanford, 17-14 in overtime.
The Ducks’ only defeat in the 2010 season was to Auburn and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton in the national championship game. That Oregon team led the country in scoring – the Ducks ranked eighth in 2009, third in 2011 and second in 2012.
Oregon lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season but defeated Wisconsin in postseason’s granddaddy two years later, the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl victory in 95 seasons.
Among those expected back on Oregon’s offense are quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back DeAnthony Thomas, both of whom averaged more than 7 yards per carry.
The series with the Ducks continues the Westernization of Virginia’s non-conference schedule under Oliver, a former administrator at Washington State.
After a 1976 game at Washington, the Cavaliers did not play another Pacific 12 team until Oliver scheduled Southern California for 2008 and ’10. He has since signed home-and-homes with UCLA (2014 and ’15) and Stanford (2017 and ’18).
Oregon gives Virginia a record eight home games next season. The Cavaliers also host non-conference opponents Brigham Young (8-5 last season), VMI (2-9) and Ball State (9-4), plus ACC rivals Clemson, Virginia Tech, Duke and Georgia Tech.
This will mark the second straight year Virginia has played a throny non-league schedule. Last season the Cavaliers played Penn State, Richmond, Louisiana Tech and Texas Christian, the latter on the road.
Such ambition may retard the struggling program short-term, affecting won-loss record and bowl eligibility. But long-term, more challenging schedules are a more accurate gauge of Virginia’s progress.
There’s also the bottom line: The Cavaliers have struggled to sell tickets, and Oregon figures to put more folks in the seats than, say, Florida Atlantic.
Virginia’s 2013 home schedule is diverse and compelling. Clemson’s spread and Georgia Tech’s option notwithstanding, the Oregon test figures to be the season’s sternest for new Cavaliers defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta.
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