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Oregon replaces Penn State in action-packed fall football schedule

Cavaliers to play most home games ever, face formidable Ducks

After a flurry of reports that Virginia was supplanting Penn State with Oregon on its 2013 football schedule, the school confirmed late Monday afternoon that it will indeed host the formidable Ducks Sep. 7. The Cavaliers were previously slated to visit Penn State Sep. 14.

As part of the home-and-home agreement jointly announced by the schools Monday, Virginia will travel to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. during the 2016 season.

“We initiated a conversation with Oregon about a potential game in 2017 in Europe,” said Jon Oliver, Virginia executive associate athletics director. “As the conversation progressed it became clear we might have an opportunity to initiate a series in 2013 starting in Charlottesville,” he said. “We saw that as a great opportunity for our program and our fans.”

Because of the scheduling change, the Cavaliers will now play eight home games, including all four non-conference contests, for the first time in program history.

“The chance to add Oregon presents us with the unique opportunity to have eight home games in a single season,” Oliver said. “Kicking off the season against [Brigham Young University] on Aug. 31 and playing Oregon on Sept. 7 will be a challenge, but one that Coach London has been on board with since the very beginning.”

The Orlando Sentinel first reported Friday that Penn State had agreed to host Central Florida in lieu of Virginia Sept. 14. Multiple media outlets eventually followed suit, with David Teel of The Daily Progress eventually writing that the Cavaliers were adding Oregon to an already-daunting schedule.

Widely admired for their high-octane, speed-oriented spread offense, the Ducks compiled a 46-7 record under coach Chip Kelly and reached a BCS bowl game in all four of his years, including a narrow 22-19 defeat to Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship. Though Kelly has bolted the program to head the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, new head coach and former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will likely retain the spread offensive schemes that have helped facilitate Oregon’s startling transformation into one of college football’s elite programs.

With the Aug. 31 showdown against Brigham Young preceding the Oregon clash, the Cavaliers will endure an arduous out-of-conference schedule for the second straight year. In 2012, Virginia faced Penn State, Texas Christian University and Louisiana Tech, three teams who finished with winning records. The Cavaliers went 1-2 in those games, only edging Penn State 17-16.

Still, head coach Mike London believes the steep competition will galvanize his squad to improve upon this year’s 4-8 record.

“We want our players to be able to compete against great teams,” London said. “Bringing BYU and Oregon to Scott Stadium to start the season will be a tremendous challenge, but one our team is preparing for now and is very excited to take on.”

Oliver also said that Virginia would be open to working with Penn State in the near future to reschedule the game.