Inside Slant - UConn at South Florida

A season that once looked like an even-money bet to end without a bowl game now has the Huskies with a chance ever to win the Big East and reach a BCS bowl game.

Connecticut's 38-17 victory over Cincinnati, coupled with Pitt's loss to West Virginia on Friday, leaves Randy Edsall's team in control of its own destiny. A win over South Florida in Saturday's regular-season finale, and the Huskies are heading to the bright lights and big payday of a major bowl.

Edsall probably knows that everyone is thinking about that, but it doesn't mean he wants people talking about it.

"We're going to focus on the South Florida game because that's our biggest goal right now," Edsall said. "The kids are going to come in here, but don't bother asking about the BCS because I told them to keep their mouths shut."

The Huskies are now 4-0 since a 26-0 loss to Louisville on Oct. 23. That defeat, coupled with the dismissal of starting quarterback Cody Endres, left UConn the lone winless team in the conference at 0-2, but the Huskies have rebounded.

"You know, it's a whole new team," running back Jordan Todman said. "Everybody has kind of switched attitudes and work ethic, and we've really started to practice, and we love to win and winning is addicting and makes everybody happy. So we'll stick to what works so far, and we have one more game on the way."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Fullback Anthony Sherman had a memorable Senior Day. His first-quarter score was the first of his college career, in his final home game.

--Kendall Reyes intercepted his second pass in as many weeks, and nearly got credit for an 84-yard return for a touchdown. But though the pick counted, the run was negated because of a block in the back by teammate Lawrence Wilson.

--SERIES HISTORY: South Florida leads Connecticut 4-3 (last meeting, 2009, 29-27 Connecticut).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The big key will be Jordan Todman's health. He'll play even with an injured shoulder, but his effectiveness will be critical to the Huskies' ability to move the ball. Zach Frazer hasn't put up big numbers at quarterback, but has been effective at staying out of trouble and making the throws when he needs to.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: UConn's secondary came up with an effective performance against Cincinnati, but the Huskies haven't been consistent back there this season. If they can do the job against South Florida, and the linebackers can be freed up to step in and stop the run, the next challenge the unit faces will be in a major bowl.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There were four things I told them after the Louisville game. I wanted to see them be more physically tough than we had been. I wanted them to be more mentally tough than we had been. I told them to let things go and focus on the next play. The last was I told them to let it fly and have fun. Whatever happens, happens. I told them today again, we needed to see effort and focus. Focus equals execution, and if we execute, we win." -- Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Connecticut at South Florida, Dec. 4 -- It all comes down to this for the Huskies. Win, and UConn takes the Big East title and moves on to a BCS bowl. Lose, and it's another second-tier postseason invitation.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Keep doing what they've been doing over the past month. UConn has been excellent at moving the ball on the ground, winning the turnover battle and making the plays in key spots on defense. South Florida is no pushover, especially in Tampa, but if UConn maintains its recent performance level, there's no reason it can't emerge from the game with the program's first BCS berth.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

RB Jordan Todman -- Todman left Saturday's game briefly with a right shoulder injury, but soon came back to rush for 175 yards and three touchdowns. It's safe to say that the shoulder will have to have fallen off before Saturday to keep him from playing against South Florida.

DT Kendall Reyes -- Defensive linemen aren't usually known for their hands, but Reyes picked off a pass for the second week in a row when he grabbed a ball out of the air against Cincinnati. His play has surged along with the team's in the last month.

KR Nick Williams -- Williams enters the weekend as the leading kick returner in the country, averaging an amazing 42 yards per return. In a game in which special teams could play a critical role, Williams could make the difference if he can give the team an edge in the battle for field position.

ROSTER REPORT: --S John Yurek missed the Cincinnati game with what was termed an "upper extremity" injury.

--OT Mike Ryan left the game against the Bearcats in the third quarter with what appeared to be a right leg injury. He did not return.

--DT Twyon Martin exited in the second quarter with a left leg injury against Cincinnati, and he was not able to return. Shamar Stephen replaced him in the lineup.


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