Virginia 51, Akron 0
-- Once again, the Virginia football team couldn't have asked for a much better afternoon.
Before thousands of homecoming alumni basking in surprisingly pleasant weather, the 12th-ranked Cavaliers continued their most dominant start in more than half a century, blasting Akron in a 51-0 win.
As in blowout wins against Temple and North Carolina, Virginia took control right away, building a 34-0 halftime lead. By the time the game reached its merciful end, the Cavaliers (3-0) had in many statistical categories earned their most lopsided victory in decades.
In total yardage, Virginia held a 522-84 advantage. In rushing yards, the gap was 326-6. In first downs, 23-6. And in points, the only category Al Groh's team truly cares about, the Cavaliers had their biggest margin since 1992.
"I saw a team out there that was physically impressive," said J.D. Brookhart, Akron's first-year coach. "They made it very difficult to do anything well."
Virginia's star players led the way. Tight end Heath Miller caught six passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Wali Lundy carried 22 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns, including a career-long 44-yard burst in the third quarter. Defensive end Chris Canty led all players with 10 tackles and got the consistent pass rush necessary to hold Charlie Frye, Akron's well-regarded senior quarterback, to a career-low 72 passing yards.
Still, the Cavaliers said they see ways they can improve. It will be necessary, they said, to challenge opponents such as Florida State and Miami later this fall.
"We want to go out there and strive for perfection," said cornerback Marcus Hamilton, part of a defense that held the Zips to 1.4 yards per play.
So far this season the Cavaliers have been pretty darn close. They have outscored their opponents 151-38 -- including 99-10 in the first half -- and conjured memories of the explosive teams of the early 1990s by topping 500 yards of total offense in each game. Their aggregate margin of victory after three games is their best since the 1952 Cavaliers opened 119-0.
Already enjoying its highest ranking in six years, Virginia could move up after fifth-ranked LSU's loss at No. 14 Auburn -- unless Auburn makes a significant leap itself.
"It's just going to get tougher from here on out, but we're preparing for that," Canty said.
But Saturday, Akron's upset hopes, like the rainstorms expected to pummel Charlottesville, never materialized.
Virginia got in gear on its second possession after taking over at the Akron 34 following a three-and-out by the Zips at their 1-yard line. Runs by Jason Snelling and Wali Lundy set up a 16-yard touchdown pass to Miller. The score stayed 6-0, though, when Connor Hughes missed the extra point -- his second miss of the year after going 40 for 40 last season.
The Cavaliers drove 73 yards on their next possession, gaining 13 yards on a critical third-and-10 play when the Zips somehow left Miller alone on the right sideline. A six-yard pass to Patrick Estes, Miller's hulking backup, moved the ball a foot from the goal line, where Lundy eased in over the right side.
Tailback Alvin Pearman ran 27 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 20-0 in the second quarter. Led through the right side by fullback Jason Snelling, Pearman turned the corner with a block from wide receiver Michael McGrew and motored down the sideline.
The Cavaliers made it 27-0 only 22 seconds later after linebacker Rich Bedesem's interception and 20-yard return gave them possession at the Akron 6. Lundy punched it in on the first play, and Virginia was well on its way.
"I just hope that it keeps up, and I'm sure that it will," nose tackle Andrew Hoffman said. "Our team's getting better with every week of practice and every game we play."
Cavaliers Notes: Virginia began six of its 16 drives in Zips territory. . . . Lundy now ranks fourth all-time among Cavaliers with 33 career touchdowns and sixth with 25 rushing touchdowns. . . . Pearman and Miller are sixth and seventh, respectively, on Virginia's career receptions list. The only players ahead of them are wide receivers. . . . Punter Sean Johnson had his best kicks of the season, a 41-yarder that dropped inside the 1-yard line and a 53-yarder that rolled to the 13. . . . Virginia has won its past four homecoming games and 13 of 14, including a 48-29 win against Akron two years ago. . . . Akron punted 11 times, its most since 1989.