The ACC Coastal does not appear to be a straightforward division again this season.
No. 20 Virginia had a chance to continue its run as the only undefeated team in the division on Friday night but lost to Miami 17-9 to fall to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC.
Miami, now 3-3 overall, was far from impressive. But it bookended the game with touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters and that was enough to keep the Cavaliers at bay. Virginia also lost star cornerback Bryce Hall to a significant left leg injury in the second quarter.
Pitt won the Coastal in 2018
Virginia entered Week 7 of the 2019 college football season as one of just three ranked teams in the ACC and the only ranked team from the Coastal. And UVA will certainly not be in the AP top 25 on Sunday.
The Cavaliers averaged fewer than three yards per rush and still somehow had five more first downs than Miami did. But while Miami converted two drives into touchdowns, Virginia didn’t. The Cavaliers had to settle for three field goals.
A win would have put Virginia as the clear favorite to lose to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Instead, every team in the division has either one or two losses and the Coastal looks set up to once again be a beautiful mess.
Pitt won the division a year ago with a 6-2 conference record despite finishing 7-7 overall. The top six teams in the division were separated by three games and there was a plausible scenario in November that the division winner could come from a large mass of teams at 4-4 in the division.
While the winner of the division in 2019 will likely finish better than 4-4 again, picking that team to emerge from the Coastal looks like a dice roll at this point. Is it Virginia, who will move forward without its best defensive player? Is it North Carolina, the division’s basement-dweller in 2018? Or is it even Pitt, a team that beat UCF and then had to struggle to beat Delaware the following week?
There’s no clear answer. And that’s why the Coastal is a beautiful mess.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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