Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, who graduated from Syracuse in 1980, has only one thing in mind for his alumni homecoming this weekend.
"We're coming up to win a game," Edsall said. "There's nothing sentimental for me."
The Huskies (5-2), who've won three of their last four, will travel to Syracuse (3-4) on Saturday for a game that could go a long way toward determining each team's postseason future. Connecticut (2-2) currently occupies third place in the Big East standings, while Syracuse (1-1) is tied for fourth. (Both are .500 - standings below)
Edsall's team is coming off a 45-31 win over Temple on Saturday. Senior quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed 18 of 29 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. He is Connecticut's new record holder for career touchdown passes with 74.
Sophomore tailback Cornell Brockington, the Big East's leading rusher (110.1 ypg.), contributed 181 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. He failed to reach the 100-yard plateau only once in six career starts.
The only hurdle standing between Connecticut and a bowl invitation could be its difficult schedule. After playing six of their first seven games at friendly Rentschler Field in East Hartford, the Huskies will conclude the regular season schedule with trips travel to Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Rutgers in the next five weeks.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Senior QB Dan Orlovsky (274.0 ypg) leads the Big East's second-ranked pass offense. Orlovsky has thrown for 14 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in seven games. Wideouts Jason Williams and Keron Henry are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, for receiving yardage.
RB Cornell Brockington leads the conference with 110.1 ypg. UConn's total offense of 429.1 ypg leads the seven-team league.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
The Huskies own the league's third-ranked scoring (20.4 ppg.) and total (326.0 ypg.) defense. Connecticut is ranked first in pass defense (180.4 ypg.), due in large part to the play of senior CB Justin Perkins. Perkins has managed three interceptions.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"He wants to do so much. He wants to gain every yard he can on every play. We have to tell him that sometimes it's better to go down instead of fighting for that extra yard." -- Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, on the play of sophomore tailback Cornell Brockington. The Big East's leading rusher fumbled twice in a win over Temple on Saturday.
THIS WEEK'S GAME
Connecticut (5-2) will travel to Syracuse (3-4) for a game that could determine each team's postseason future. The Huskies and Orange have never met on the gridiron.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RB Cornell Brockington -- The leading rusher in the Big East delivered 181 yards and two touchdowns in Connecticut's win over Temple. He rushed for a 61-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
LB Alfred Fincher -- The senior recorded 13 tackles and broke up three passes against Temple. Fincher leads the conference with 90 tackles and has added two sacks.
The Huskies had a few minor injuries against Temple, with both kick returner Larry Taylor (ankle) and running back Cornell Brockington (knee) leaving the game but vowing to be ready for the next contest. Also hurt was backup linebacker Kinnan Herriott, who hurt his right thigh and didn't return. ... Cornerback Allan Barnes is likely out for the season after injuring his knee in practice for the Temple game ... DE Tyler King broke his right leg three weeks ago.
Senior tailback Walter Reyes' participation streak of 42 straight games was snapped last Thursday when a bad case of the flu caused him to miss Syracuse's 27-6 loss at West Virginia.
Not only was Reyes unavailable, but backup tailback Damien Rhodes was also hindered by the illness. The Orange rushed for 66 yards in defeat.
"It really hurt us," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said.
"Not only did it hurt us, but Damien was a step away from the same thing. You can't go into a game like that at their place missing 50 percent of your one-two punch."
Pasqualoni made no excuses for his team's poor performance. The Orange (3-4) moved the ball inside the Mountaineers' 25-yard line five times, but scored only once. Special teams missed two field goals and an extra point.
Pasqualoni, however, chose to look on the bright side. Each of Syracuse's four losses have come against teams -- West Virginia, Purdue, Virginia and Florida State -- ranked among the nation's top 15.
The Orange will host Connecticut (5-2) on Saturday for the first time in school history.
"Connecticut is a very experienced team, a very senior team," Pasqualoni said. "To me, they appear to have that leadership and type of chemistry you'd hope to get with that kind of experience."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
QB Perry Paterson needs to improve for Syracuse to finish better than .500 this season. The 6-4, 250-pound sophomore has thrown for three touchdowns against five interceptions. Running backs Walter Reyes and Damien Rhodes have been dominant at times, but without a passing game Syracuse isn't likely to reach the postseason for the third straight year.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE:
The Orange will field the league's last-ranked run defense against Connecticut (196.6 ypg.). Bear in mind, Huskies tailback Cornell Brockington leads the conference in rushing. Syracuse has surrendered 25.9 points per game -- fifth in the Big East. Keep an eye on LB Jerry Mackey, who has recorded 55 tackles and one sack.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"The ACC is finding out what it's like to have Miami in their conference. They all have high aspirations until the game is over." -- Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, on the departure of former Big East member Miami to the ACC.
THIS WEEK'S GAME
The Orange will host Connecticut in the teams' first meeting ever. The Huskies are coming off a 45-31 victory over Temple. Syracuse's fourth-ranked pass defense (212.3 ypg.) will have to limit Connecticut's second-ranked pass offense (276.9 ypg.) to have a chance in this one.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
SS Diamond Ferri -- For the second straight game, the senior forced and recovered a fumble on the same play. He also had a team-high 13 tackles against West Virginia. Ferri leads the Big East in kick return yardage (29.6).
RB Walter Reyes -- The senior missed last week's game against West Virginia with the flu, but is expected to return against Connecticut. Reyes is averaging 92.7 rushing yards per game -- third in the Big East.
WR Steven Gregory (thigh), who had missed four games, returned to catch five passes at West Virginia. FB Stephen McDonald (knee) is out indefinitely.
(through Oct. 26)
BIG EAST Overall W L Pct. W L Pct. West Virginia 2 0 1.000 6 1 .857 Pittsburgh 3 1 .750 5 2 .714 Connecticut 2 2 .500 5 2 .714 Boston College 1 1 .500 5 2 .714 Syracuse 1 1 .500 3 4 .429 Rutgers 1 2 .333 4 3 .571 Temple 0 3 .000 1 7 .125