4. 2005 Music City Bowl vs. Minnesota, W 34-31
It was really tough to peg this 2005 team. They finished up 6-5 on the year, winning a big game against FSU, but losing a 7-5 battle the next week at UNC. So when the New Bowl on the Block called up the Hoos, they were happy to ship out to Nashville to take on Minnesota and their 2 headed rushing attack in Gary Russell and Lawrence Maroney. Why this bowl was special was that we actually came back to win a game, from a pretty big deficit. Virginia was down 21-7 about to head to half, when the Hoos engineered a quick drive and kicked a FG to make it 21-10. Out of the half, the Cavs were on a mission, and took the 3rd quarter kickoff down the field 84 yards in 13 plays, capped off by a Wali Lundy 7 yard touchdown. But even after trading scores for most of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th, they found themselves down 31-24. But a touchdown by Wali Lundy and a key 3 & out after a Hagans INT, the Hoos engineered a 13 play 75 yard drive and kicked the GW field goal with 1:08 left. 3 plays later, the Hoos picked off Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito and the Hoos won 34-31.
3. 1987 All-American Bowl vs. BYU, W 22-16
Bowl games were a relatively new thing for the Hoos, and after being picked over for a few years, they got back in the mix in 1987 after winning their last 4 games and finishing 7-4 season. Facing them were heavyweights 9-3 Brigham Young coached by great Lavell Edwards. It ended up being a game where BYU would end up losing the game after missing 2 long field goals and ending up being stopped on the goal line twice by the UVa defense. Hoos QB Scott Secules worked two long drives and put the Hoos up 14-3 heading into half. BYU owned the play in the 3rd but only managed 1 touchdown, and muffed the PAT to make it 14-9. UVa great John Ford hauled in a 22 yard TD pass and converted the 2 point conversion, but the Cougs answered quickly and made the score 22-16 with 7:09 remaining. BYU had one last shot to win the game but the 4th & goal play ended up 2 feet short of the goal line and the Hoos were able to run out the clock from there. Scott Secules was named MVP (10/19, 162, 1 TD, 2 INT) over Sean Covey (37/61, 394, 1 TD, 1 INT) and George Welsh had his second win in as many trips to the post season.
2. 1984 Peach Bowl vs. Purdue, W 27-24
You can’t start talking about UVa bowl games without talking about the first one. Virginia had been playing football for decades, but was never in a position to get selected to the post season. That all changes a few short years after George Welsh came on board. 1984 saw the Hoos go 7-2-2, and those 2 ties were enough to put the Hoos high enough in the ACC to get selected to a bowl. And wouldn’t you know, we actually got a call! Virginia went down to Georgia and faced a 6-5 Purdue team that endured a rough season in the Big Ten, but had won some key games over Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan. The Boilermakers jumped out to a 24-14 halftime lead behind QB Jim “Don’t call me Chris” Everett. But the UVa D clamped down in the second half and used an inspired performance by future Packer QB Don “The Majik Man” Majkowski and scored a touchdown and 2 field goals to pull out the 27-24 win. It was the programs first bowl game and first win.
1. 1995 Peach Bowl vs. Georgia, W 34-27
Virginia’s bowl history is forever linked to the Peach Bowl. On the eve of our fourth contest in this great bowl game, each previous game have been extremely close and marked different eras in Hall of Fame coach George Welsh’s carer. But none of them have been as exciting as the 1995 tilt with the Georgia Bulldogs that made Demetrius Allen a household name around Charlottesville.
The 1995 season was one of the most successful years to date. The Hoos had only ever won one ACC Championship, tying Duke for the 1990 crown. They had been knock on the door in subsequent years, but could never get passed the new kid in town, Florida State. After losing a heartbreaking opener 18-17 to Michigan in the Pigskin Classic, they won 6 of the next 8 to set up a matchup with FSU for a share of the ACC crown. We all knew what happened from there. Virginia would finish 8-4 and tied for the championship and were rewarded with a trip to Atlanta against a Charlie Ward lead 6-5 Bulldog team.
In true fashion under Mike Groh and Tiki Barber, the Hoos jumped out to a 14-0 lead and cruised into halftime up 24-14. But in the second half, the tension in the Georgia Dome grew as the easily UGA heavy crowd will the Dawgs back into the game. Up 27-20, the Hoos only needed to run the ball and punt to pin Georgia back on their side of the field with little time on the clock. But George Welsh gambled and Mike Groh threw a pass out to WR Patrick Jeffers, but was rocked after the catch and defensive tackle Jason Ferguson picked up the ball and ran it into the endzone with just over a minute to go. Tied 27-27, the PA announcer was explaining to the crowd the overtime rules, but failed to mention to the impartial crowd that there was still plenty of time on the clock for some magic. And that’s what happened. ‘Pete’ Allen remarked after the game that he “had said all season that I was going to return [a kickoff] for a touchdown. But, at that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about what I had said. All I could see was the goal line”. And that’s what he did. 83 yards later, and with a nice tap dance along the side line around midfield, Allen found himself at pay day and the Hoos won the game 34-27. It was the 2nd most dramatic win of the season and the Hoos capped off their third 9+ win season in school history. Hopefully, Virginia can repeat that feat this year in Atlanta. Stay tuned.