Sept. 4, 2012
Virginia Hosts Penn State for Big Ten match-up
• The University of Virginia faces Penn State on Saturday for the eighth time in school history and the first time since the 2002 season.
• After winning its season opener, UVa is looking to start the season 2-0 for the second consecutive season and for only the third time since 2005, when the Cavaliers posted three-straight wins to open the year.
Series vs. Penn State, Big Ten
• Penn State holds holds a 5-2 advantage in a series that reaches back two centuries to the first meeting in 1893. The Nittany Lions won the first four meetings between the two schools, but the Cavaliers won the next two (1989, 2001), before Penn State won the last meeting in Happy Valley in 2002 by a score of 35-14.
• The 108,698 fans that attended the 2002 meeting between UVa and Penn State is the largest crowd the Cavaliers have ever played in front of.
• The Nittany Lions make their first visit to Charlottesville since falling to the Cavaliers, 20-14, during the 2001 season. The 2001 game was originally scheduled to be played on ESPN’s Thursday night football on Sept. 13, 2001, but was moved to Dec. 1, 2011 following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
• Overall this is the fourth two-game series between the two schools. Penn State won games in 1954-55, while the teams split the two series preceding this one (1988-89 & 2001-02).
• The 1955 meeting was played in Richmond.
• Virginia held Penn State to just six points in State College in 1989 in its lone road win in the series. The six points are tied for the fourth-fewest Penn State has scored at home dating back to the start of the Joe Paterno era in 1966.
• In the last UVa win over Penn State, the Cavaliers outscored the Nittany Lions 14-0 in the second half during the 2001 meeting to rally for a 20-14 win. Art Thomas, a native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., turned in the big play of the game to spark the Cavaliers. He scooped up a Zack Mills fumble and raced 92 yards for a touchdown for the longest fumble return in school history. Tailback Alvin Pearman bolted 16 yards for the winning touchdown with 3:20 left in the third quarter. The game marked the first time Virginia scored more than 14 points vs. the Nittany Lions. UVa scored 14 points in both 1988 and 1989, and again in 2002.
• After playing at Indiana last season, this is the second year in a row UVa has played a member of the Big Ten Conference.
• In all-time meetings with schools currently in the Big Ten, UVa is 6-11 and winners of three in a row.
• As a head coach, Mike London is 1-0 all-time against members of the Big Ten Conference.
• Virginia is scheduled to return the trip to Happy Valley next season on Sept. 14.
Last Meeting: 2002 (PSU 35, UVa 14)
• It was a 10-7 Penn State lead at the half before the Nittany Lions outscored UVa 25-7 in the second half to grab the 35-14 Happy Valley meeting.
• UVa’s Matt Schaub found Heath Miller for a 1-yard pass to start the game’s scoring, but the Cavaliers failed to score again until the 7:08 mark in the fourth quarter when Wali Lundy rushed for a four-yard TD, finishing the game’s scoring.
• Schaub was efficient passing going 30-of-38 for 260 yards, while Billy McMullen caught 10 passes for 122 yards. Miller added six catches for 50 yards.
UVa connections with Penn State
• UVa quarterback Michael Rocco is the son of former Penn State QB Frank Rocco, Jr.
• Rocco’s father Frank was on PSU’s 1982 National Championship team.
• Rocco’s grandfather is former Penn State football administrator and football coach (1985 season) Frank Rocco, Sr.
• Rocco’s uncle Danny Rocco (current Richmond HC) spent two seasons as a LB at Penn State before transferring to Wake Forest to play for Al Groh.
• Rocco’s other uncle Dave Rocco suffered a back injury early in his career at Penn State that made him choose to become an undergraduate assistant under Joe Paterno where he was part of PSU’s National Championship staff in 1994. Dave Rocco is currently the head coach of Charlottesville’s Covenant School’s football team.
Rocco Family Tree Fun Fact
• When looking at Michael Rocco’s family tree there is another tie that binds besides the fact his father and two uncles all played football at Penn State.
• All three men were head coaches at one time or another for current Jacksonville Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings, who has been tabbed to start on Sunday for the Jaguars season opener at Minnesota.
• Dave Rocco coached Jennings at Jefferson Forest HS (same HS as UVa coach Anthony Poindexter) in the Lynchburg area for three seasons.
• Jennings later transferred to Liberty Christian Academy (same HS as Michael Rocco) for his senior season to play for Frank Rocco, Jr. in 2004.
• After becoming only fourth true freshman to start the season opener at RB for Pitt in 2005, Jennings transferred home to play for Danny Rocco at Liberty University (2006-08) due to a family health situation.
London Improves To 5-0 in Season Openers
• In his career as a head coach, Mike London has won all five of his season openers: 2008 at Elon and 2009 at Duke while at Richmond, and 2010 vs. Richmond, 2011 vs. William & Mary and 2012 vs. Richmond while at Virginia.
• With the Cavaliers’43-19 win over Richmond in the season opener, Mike London became the second UVa coach to ever win the first three season openers of his tenure on Grounds - matching Rice Warren (1913, 1920-21).
Big offensive numbers in opener
• Michael Rocco’s 311 passing yards against Richmond are the most ever by a UVa QB in a season opener.
• Rocco became the first UVa QB since Aaron Brooks in 1997 to pass for over 300 yards in season opener. Brooks had 305 in a loss to Auburn at Scott Stadium.
• With 545 yards of total offense against Richmond, UVa ammassed the most yardage in a season opener since the 1990 Cavaliers trounced Kansas for 564 yards of total offense in Lawrence, Kan., ironically 22 years to the day of this year’s Richmond game.