Louisville Defense to Challenge Huskies

If you follow Big East football, you know exactly how crazy the conference race gets every season. Connecticut proved that again last season when the Huskies got hot at the end of the regular season and went on to become the conference's BCS representative.

Now, consider this information from a Big East press release this week:

"While the winner of Saturday's Cincinnati-Rutgers game will be no worse than tied for first place in the BIG EAST, the winner of the day's other conference game between Louisville and Connecticut will be in the hunt as well. In fact, a Louisville win and a Rutgers win would forge a three-way tie with those teams atop the league standings. If Connecticut wins, the Huskies would move into either a three- or four-way tie for second place."

GAME CAPSULE

LOUISVILLE (5-5, 3-2) vs. UCONN (4-5, 2-2)

Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, Noon

SNY/Big East Network (Mike Gleason, John Congemi); WTIC 1080/UConn Radio Network (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman)

Rentschler Field (40,000), East Hartford, Conn.

THREE KEYS FOR UCONN:

BALL CONTROL

The Huskies found the right offensive mix in the second half against Syracuse, scoring 21 points after halftime in that 28-21 victory. UConn will be facing tough defenses each of the next two weeks. Louisville ranks second in the Big East and 12th nationally in scoring defense (18.6 ppg), so it is important for the Huskies to keep the Cardinals defense on the field and wear down Louisville. UConn's running attack, led by Lyle McCombs, has been effective and the two-quarterback system was a big success against Syracuse. Long drives and productivity in the red zone could lead to a UConn victory.

FIELD POSITION

Punter Cole Wagner and kick returner Nick Williams played a huge role in UConn's victory over Syracuse. Wagner's 35-yard average on three punts didn't set any records but twice he pinned the Orange inside the 20 and that was big. Williams can be a weapon for UConn at any time and against Syracuse he returned the opening kickoff to the Syracuse 33, setting up the first touchdown for the Huskies. Williams returned three kickoffs for 123 yards. Little things can add up to big things and UConn took advantage of good field position, something the Huskies must continue to win games.

PRESSURE BRIDGEWATER

True freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has started the past seven games and provided a spark for the Cardinals. He has thrown for 1,440 yards, nine touchdowns and has been intercepted eight times. UConn has placed a major emphasis on rushing the passer, so this would be a good time for Kendall Reyes and Trevardo Williams to do what they do best and engage in some sacking. "He can hurt you running the ball, even though to me he is a true drop back passer," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said of Bridgewater. "He manages the offense extremely well, when you consider he is just a freshman."

THREE QUICK FACTS:

1. UConn needs to win two of its final three games to be bowl eligible for the seventh time in nine years.

2. Redshirt freshman running back Lyle McCombs needs 19 yards to reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the season. McCombs ranks second in the Big East in rushing at 109.0 yards per game.

3. UConn is the second least-penalized team in the Big East, averaging just 39.9 yards per game. UConn opponents have been penalized a league-high 71.6 yards.


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