The Washington Times - September 18, 2008, 10:47PM

It’s time to ask an exceptionally valid question now that Virginia has dismissed quarterback Peter Lalich from the team:

Will the Cavaliers win another game this season?

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One of the assumptions a lot of people carried into the season was that Virginia’s offense would be brutal. And the Cavaliers have sure lived down to expectations, scoring 33 points in three games and managing only two offensive touchdowns.

Ruh-roh!

But there was always some hope for the defense, and that’s why thinking four or five wins wasn’t all that impossible. Even if Al Groh can be an inviting pinata for criticism – and he certainly is batted around plenty by Virginia fans and others – the man can coach defense.

But Virginia yielded 45 points to a decent-but-not-great Connecticut team just a week removed from dropping a dozen on Temple and former Groh assistant Al Golden. So that defense? Maybe not so good.

Now that Lalich is gone, the Cavaliers are left with Marc Verica and Scott Deke, two guys who never threw a pass before this season. And an already suspect offense just even more dubious.

Here are some things that suddenly look quite possible:

* The Cavaliers becoming the first ACC team other than Duke to go winless in league play since Wake Forest in 1995.

* Virginia suffering through its first 10-loss season (and winless ACC season) since going 1-10 (0-6) in 1981.

* One of the all-time nosedives in college football history. It’s tough to go from 9-4 to either 1-11 or 2-10 or 3-9, but it could very well happen in Charlottesville.

Since this blog is all about historical perspective, here’s a look at teams in ACC history that won at least eight games one season and had their victory total decline by at least six the next.

* 1956-57 Maryland: The Terps fell from 10-1 (and No. 3 nationally) to 2-7-1.
* 1972-73 North Carolina: The Tar Heels were 11-1 and Sun Bowl champs, but dropped to 4-7.
* 1992-93 Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons went 8-4 in Bill Dooley’s final season and beat Oregon in the Independence Bowl. Jim Caldwell’s first effort yielded a 2-9.
* 1994-95 N.C. State: The Wolfpack plummeted from 9-3 (and Peach Bowl champs) to 3-8.

That’s not a very large list. But at this point, given all the personnel losses by normal attrition (Chris Long, Branden Albert) and various academic and behavioral casualties, the Cavaliers would probably be fortunate to avoid taking a place among the ACC’s all-time free-fallers.

Patrick Stevens