No. 9 Notre Dame looks to end 5-game road skid at Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Virginia quarterback Matt Johns says the proof is there for all his teammates to see. Three times in Mike London's first five years as coach, a ranked team came into Scott Stadium and left with a loss.
The most recent came a year ago when the Cavaliers edged No. 21 Louisville 23-21.
A visit from No. 9 Notre Dame (1-0) on Saturday gives Virginia (0-1) another opportunity to pull an upset.
''We're looking back on past experiences,'' Johns said of the victory against the Cardinals, secured when Ian Frye kicked his first career game-winning field goal, a 42-yarder with 3:42 remaining. ''We can beat these teams and we have faith in ourselves. We just have to play with confidence and play to the best of our ability.''
The Fighting Irish are coming off a 38-3 victory against Texas, but will arrive at Scott Stadium having lost their last five true road games, including consecutive blowout losses to Arizona State and USC to end last season.
Defensive lineman Sheldon Day said the Irish are a different team, and leaving the past in the past.
''You can definitely tell,'' Day said. ''The aura and the culture around this team is something special. So it's all about growing together as a band of brothers and making sure we do everything we can to get this win.''
Linebacker Matthias Farley said a hostile environment on the road makes travel fun, but the Irish are certain to have a strong contingent of their own fans in the 61,000-seat stadium with a sellout crowd anticipated.
Here are some other things to look for when Notre Dame visits Virginia:
AIR SHOW: Virginia was vulnerable to the passing game last week against UCLA, allowing true freshman Josh Rosen to throw for 351 yards and three touchdowns while getting only one sack. They will have their hands full again this week. Malik Zaire threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns while completing 19 of 22 passes against Texas, and Will Fuller caught seven passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yarder.
FAN-DEMONIUM: Dwindling crowds have become the norm for Virginia, which hasn't had a winning season since 2011. The Cavaliers averaged 39,320 fans last season, so a sellout suggests there will be plenty of Fighting Irish fans in the stadium. That could go a long way toward helping the Irish end their five-game road losing streak.
GROUND GAME: Virginia native C.J. Prosise ran for 98 yards for the Irish against Texas, matching what the Cavaliers managed in their loss to UCLA. Virginia has committed to establishing a power running game this season and will need to do much better to sustain drives and keep the explosive Fighting Irish offense on the sideline. And the Cavaliers will have to do it against a defense that allowed just 60 yards and a 2.1-yard average in beating Texas.
TAKEAWAYS: The Fighting Irish are 17-0 under coach Brian Kelly in games in which they don't commit a turnover. An underdog like Virginia can help its cause by getting a few takeaways and cashing in on them.
CELEBRATIONS: The Cavaliers have struggled in football in recent years, but will celebrate three 2014 men's national championship teams - soccer, tennis and baseball - on the field during breaks in the action. The Cavaliers also won the Capital One Cup as the best overall men's athletic program in the country last year.
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