CHARLOTTESVILLE — In an 11-year stint at Brigham Young during which the Cougars were 56 games over .500, head football coach Bronco Mendenhall was no stranger to the Associated Press Top 25.
It’s been nothing like that in his four seasons at Virginia, which spent one week at No. 23 last year and assumed the No. 25 spot this week as 15-time ACC champion Florida State looms on the horizon.
The Cavaliers (2-0) were 52-17 winners in their home opener Friday night against William and Mary. On Saturday, the Seminoles (1-1) defeated visiting Louisiana-Monroe 45-44 in overtime.
“They’re capable of putting a lot of points on the board and doing it really quickly,” Mendenhall said during his weekly press conference.
Nonetheless, Florida State was not ranked going into the season and was a 36-31 loser to visiting Boise State in its season opener.
The Broncos were unranked before the season but moved into the polls after rallying to beat FSU.
“I’m not sure, when you lose to a team like [Boise State] that you’re down,” Mendenhall said. “I don’t see anything on film that says they’re down.”
Because Virginia had a rare Friday game, Mendenhall was free Saturday.
“I do click on games,” he said. “My son Breaker loves watching football, and my wife, Holly, loves watching football. Holly was watching the end of the BYU game on her phone while I was watching another game on the big screen and she kept making comments.
“The way my personality works is, it’s pretty unique. When I move on from something, I move on and I don’t look back. It could be a flaw or a strength but that’s where I am with that.”
Mendenhall didn’t mind sharing one of his wife’s comments.
“My wife was joking that probably my favorite thing to say is, ‘The polls mean nothing till about Week 8, because, until then, everyone is just guessing,’ ” Mendenhall said.
“Marketing is powerful. I think, in the entertainment business, as soon as you put a number by a team, viewership has a chance to go up and so I think the entertainment value is increased.
“My hope is that it’s [No. 25] an accurate ranking and that it reflects three years and two games worth of work, and that’s probably why the rankings are not accurate because they’re traditionally based on who’s been good in the past.
“After saying all that, it’s really just interference and we’ll really just focus on the game.”
The crowd for William and Mary was listed at 45,250 — up from 40,524 for the Cavaliers’ 2018 opener against Richmond.
Students entered through separate gates, and that attendance number — 10,027 — was hailed by Mendenhall.
“One of my favorite things from Friday night was our student section,” Mendenhall said. “It was jammed. I hope it’s just the beginning. I really do. It was noticeable to me.
“I pay attention usually just before the game and then they have to be pretty loud for me to notice during the game. I noticed not only the student section [in the lower east stands] but the grass hill on the end.
“I would hope it’s just the beginning.”
Although this is Mendenhall’s fourth season at UVa, neither he nor any of his players have faced Florida State, which is in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
In their last meeting, then-No. 2 FSU defeated Virginia 34-20 in 2014 in Tallahassee. The last time they played in Charlottesville was in 2010, when Florida State won 34-14.