After going in opposite directions in 2011 and entering this year with vastly different expectations, September was all about renewed hope at Maryland (2-2) and new questions at Virginia (2-3).
Are the teams going in opposite directions again? That will be answered Oct. 13 when they meet in Charlottesville. Regardless of the outcome, both have a chance to complete this month with bowl hopes intact as they face soft schedules in October.
Up this month for Maryland are Wake Forest (3-2), Virginia (2-3), N.C. State (3-2) and Boston College (1-3). After losing to each of these teams by at least 11 points last season, all four games suddenly look winnable.
Virginia's next four also are less than daunting -- at Duke (4-1), which may be without quarterback Sean Renfree on Saturday, followed by Maryland, Wake Forest and N.C. State.
The bad news is what happens afterward. Virginia's last three are against resurgent Miami (4-1), North Carolina (3-2) and Virginia Tech (3-2), while Maryland will face No. 15 Clemson (4-1), No. 3 Florida State (5-0) and UNC.
There are reasons for optimism for both teams. Injured players are returning seemingly each week for Maryland, and its freshmen, including quarterback Perry Hills, have been better than anyone could have expected.
At Virginia, the promotion of quarterback Phillip Sims, who replaces Michael Rocco, gives the Cavaliers more potential to make the big plays promised in the preseason by coach Mike London, though fixing the Cavaliers' 13-3 turnover ratio has to be the top priority.
- Kevin Dunleavy