Virginia vs. Western Michigan
Playing the MAC: Virginia is 7-0-1 in eight previous games against Mid-American Conference schools. The Cavaliers beat Western Michigan, 59-16, in Kalamazoo, Mich., two years ago. Quarterback Marques Hagans, playing for injured starter Matt Schaub, threw for 162 yards and three touchdowns against the Broncos, and running back Wali Lundy also threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Ottowa Anderson. Virginia beat Akron, another MAC school, in last year's homecoming game in Charlottesville, 51-0.
An unusual mark: When Hagans starts against Western Michigan today, he will become only the second Virginia quarterback to start a game in four seasons. The senior from Hampton, Va., started against Florida State in the second game of the 2002 season and then against the Broncos in 2003. Last season, Hagans started all 12 games at quarterback, throwing for 2,024 yards and nine touchdowns. Scott Gardner is the only other Virginia quarterback to accomplish that feat since the NCAA restored freshman eligibility in 1972. Gardner did it from 1972 to 1975 and left school as the Cavaliers' leading career passer (he still ranks third with 5,218 passing yards).
Freshman makes start: When Coach Al Groh released his depth chart earlier this week, freshman Branden Albert was a surprise starter at left guard. Albert, from Glen Burnie High School, wasn't a highly recruited player, even after he seemed to blossom during one season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. But Groh said he and his coaches anticipated Albert being in the mix to replace all-American guard Elton Brown this season. "Branden was not a highly recruited player, although he's going to play like a top player," Groh said. Other freshmen who could play today for the Cavaliers include wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, cornerback Mike Brown and guard Eugene Monroe.
-- Mark Schlabach