Richmond vs. Virginia College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Saturday, Sept. 3
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Brennan Armstrong.
- Virginia hosts Richmond in its season opener as college football Week 1 rolls on.
- The Cavs are replacing all five of their starting offensive lineman, so will that help impact the total?
- Tanner McGrath dives right into this matchup and offers up his thoughts.
Richmond vs. Virginia Odds
Virginia began the Bronco Mendenhall era with a season-opening loss to Richmond in 2016.
How fun would it be if Richmond doubled-down for the Tony Elliott era?
The former Clemson offensive coordinator is going to do everything in his power to make sure that doesn't happen. Considering the three-touchdown spread, it seems unlikely.
But can the Spiders keep it within the number? Or maybe there's value on the total?
Sure, Richmond beat the Cavs in 2016. However, Virginia responded with a 42-13 victory in 2018 and outgained the Spiders 492-to-225 in the process.
Richmond is ranked No. 24 in the FCS preseason polls, but went just 6-5 last season and is 19-20 under head coach Russ Huesman.
Here's something interesting: Quarterback Reece Udinski is the active FCS leader in passing yards (7.877) and wide receiver Jacob Herres is the active FCS leader in receptions (226) and receiving yards (3,006).
Both accumulated almost all of their production at VMI, so perhaps their chemistry will carry over. Udinski wasn't particularly efficient in his time at VMI and the Richmond offense was a below-average FCS offense last season.
The defense was above average and was particularly good in the front seven. Richmond finished 20th in rush defense and returns two linebackers who started all 11 games, including three-time All-CAA Tristan Wheeler.
On the surface, it looks like Virginia has all the pieces to succeed like it did last season. Brennan Armstrong is back under center, alongside his top three wideouts. Also, Lavel Davis is returning from injury.
Coach Elliott should be a quality head coach. I'll bet he uses plenty of zone-read plays like he did with Trevor Lawrence, especially because Armstrong was the second-leading rusher for the Cavs last season and ran for nine touchdowns.
Just look at this athleticism:
Still examining how #UVA QB Brennan Armstrong and his skillset will translate to the next level, because he layers passes all over the field, but his determination to make/extend plays is accentuated all over his tape.
Dude is tough as hell.pic.twitter.com/a7VNgI4qmm
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) August 21, 2022
Here's the problem: There are no other returning offensive starters. The backfield depth is gone and I cannot emphasize this next point enough …
All five starters on the offensive line are gone.
The Cavaliers had only two career FBS starts returning. They had to add FCS transfers from Georgetown and Dartmouth.
Things are slightly different on defense. Six starters return, but just one of the top four tacklers. Plus, who cares about the returning production from an awful defense? This was the 121st-ranked defense last season and it finished outside the top-100 in almost every defensive efficiency metric.
New defensive coordinator John Rudzinski has plenty of work to do.
Richmond vs. Virginia Betting Pick
This is a tough game to handicap. Both teams had so much offseason turnover that we can't be sure of what to make of either side.
That points me toward the under.
The strength of the Spiders is their front seven. The Cavaliers are replacing their entire offensive line.
Again: Virginia is replacing all five offensive line starters from last season.
Do you know what that does to an offense?
On the other side, I am putting zero trust in Richmond's average FCS offense with a new quarterback.
The line is pretty high at 60, so I'll bank on the game to stay below that.