Preview - UConn vs South Florida

UConn is home to finish out the regular season with a pair of games against two of the better teams in the Big East. On Saturday, the Huskies (4-5) will play South Florida (6-3), which can win the conference title with a victory today and next Saturday at home against West Virginia.

UConn is home to finish out the regular season with a pair of games against two of the better teams in the Big East. On Saturday, the Huskies (4-5) will play South Florida (6-3), which can win the conference title with a victory today and next Saturday at home against West Virginia.

 

Next Saturday, Louisville invades Rentschler Field for the first time. Today's game is an elimination game of sorts --- a UConn loss, which would be its fifth straight, would end its hopes for a bowl bid; a South Florida loss would kill its chances to wade in the cash baths of a BCS bowl game. Here's how the Huskies can get back to .500:

 

PUT THE MESSAGE IN THE BOX

 

Take away Andre Hall, South Florida's dynamic senior running back, and there's an excellent chance the Bulls' offense will sputter. Of course, that sounds simpler than it really is. Not only is Hall a shifty, powerful runner, but he has three senior offensive linemen to plow open holes for him.

 

UConn, however, is getting Taurien Sowell back at middle linebacker. One player doesn't make that much of a difference in most cases, but Sowell is this year's Alfred Fincher. Maybe he isn't as dynamic as Fincher was, but his experience and talent have been sorely missed over the last three games. If Sowell really is healthy, UConn can try with confidence to plug up the Bulls' running game by lining up nine defenders on or near the line of scrimmage and force junior quarterback Pat Julmiste to put the ball in the air. He's much happier handing it off, especially to Hall.

 

TRY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT

 

With two games left, UConn has to leave its inhibitions in the locker room and come out ready to do whatever it takes to win this game and make the season finale truly meaningful. South Florida knows what to expect: Terry Caulley left, Terry Caulley right, short passes in the flat to Brandon Young, and the occasional solo flight by Matt Bonislawski. Turn the page. Mix it up more.

 

The Huskies have had two weeks to study the Bulls' tendencies. Given that level of preparedness, they should be able to find more to exploit, and more ways to surprise the opposition with everything from halfback options to fake punts. We're not saying the Huskies should throw all caution to the wind and start trying things like the Statue of Liberty play, but we do think it's time to give the opposition something more to worry about than the same five or six plays.

 

GIVE THEM THE COLD SHOULDER

 

It's going to be cold today, probably below freezing by the fourth quarter. For fans sitting on metal benches (except Buffy and Tad in the hallowed blue seats and the suits sipping hot cocoa with a dash of Schnapps in the luxury boxes), that can get pretty uncomfortable. If they think it's cold just sitting there, imagine how 99 kids from the Sunshine State feel as they endure frosty conditions for the first time. They're not going to like it. Heck, they issue mitten alerts if the temperature dips below 50 in the Tampa area.

 

The Huskies should revel in their New Englandness by wearing short sleeves, eschewing warmup jackets, and acting like it's just another November day in Connecticut --- which, to them, it is. They've seen their breath before. The Bulls haven't. Hit 'em while they're still bundled up.


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