By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — When the University of Southern California’s football team played UVa at Scott Stadium in the 2008 season-opener, the game was the Trojans’ first in the Commonwealth.
The Wahoos (1-0) will find themselves in a similar spot Saturday night when they meet the 14th-ranked Trojans (1-0) at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The game will be Virginia’s first in California.
Virginia’s coach in 2008 was Al Groh. Mike London now holds that position, and this will be his first road game as the head ‘Hoo. That’s not the only thing that will make this trip special for London.
“Never been there,” London said of the storied L.A. Coliseum, whose capacity is 93,607.
The 2008 game at Scott Stadium wasn’t close, as USC romped 52-7. Four players still on UVa’s roster started in that game: offensive guard B.J. Cabbell, wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, defensive lineman Matt Conrath and cornerback Chase Minnifield.
“I remember that game vividly,” Minnifield said on London’s radio show Monday night.
USC will be heavily favored to beat UVa again, but London said his team is excited about the challenge.
“It’s an opportunity to go out West and play a team that’s got NFL-caliber players, with an NFL coach, NFL waterboys and NFL everything else,” London said.
“You have the distractions that are out there with being in California, but if you measure their field, it’s the same 100 yards as Scott Stadium’s field. I’ve said it before, all that matters is what happens between the white lines, and every stadium you go is one that you’ve got to perform in, and we’re looking to improve from this past week’s performance and do things we hope can add up to give us a chance to play and be competitive.”
UVa opened with a 34-13 win over Richmond, an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision power. USC won a 49-36 shootout at Hawaii.
“It’s a great challenge for us to try to see how much we’ve improved from last week,” London said.
The ‘Hoos will return to the Golden State in 2015 to face UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins visit Charlottesville in 2014.
Virginia is 4-10 in football games played west of the Mississippi River. UVa’s most recent game in that part of the country was a 23-3 loss at Wyoming in the 2007 season-opener.
Against teams from California, the ‘Hoos are 1-2. They beat San Jose State 52-14 in 1998, lost 37-34 in overtime to Fresno State in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl, and then dropped the 2008 opener to USC.