UConn hosts Cincinnati with league title in view
Connecticut is just a couple of wins away from its first-ever trip to a BCS bowl.
The Huskies (6-4, 3-2) host Cincinnati (4-6, 2-3) on Saturday in control of the Big East race. A win over the Bearcats and another at South Florida next week and UConn wins at least a share of the Big East title, and a trip to a BCS game. The Huskies hold tiebreakers with head-to-head wins against both Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
But first things first. The Huskies must find a way to stop the Bearcats, who are averaging 434 yards of offense, and could can become bowl eligible if they win Saturday and beat Pitt at home next week.
''If we don't win Saturday, it doesn't matter what anybody else does,'' said UConn defensive tackle Kendall Reyes on Tuesday. ''We have to stay focused on that.''
The Bearcats put up 69 points and 661 yards in beating Rutgers last week. Quarterback Zach Collaros threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another. Isaiah Pead ran for 213 yards, with five touchdowns - four running, one receiving.
They have averaged 47 points in their four wins and are 0-6 when scoring fewer than 30.
''They put up 700 yards of offense against us and 47 points (last year),'' UConn coach Edsall said. ''I know what it's about. We've been there.''
He said the key to stopping Cincinnati is to avoid the big play, and force turnovers. UConn has forced 21 of those this season, and the Bearcats have allowed 20.
Edsall joked that his Huskies might also try something new - perhaps a spread offense with five wide receivers. But don't count on it.
The Bearcats, like every other UConn opponent, can expect to see a lot of running back Jordan Todman, the nation's second-leading rusher, who is averaging over 26 carries and 145 yards a game.
UConn leads the conference with 180 yards per game on the ground, and is last in passing offense, with just over 150 yards through the air.
''Yes, it's a lot harder when there are nine men in the box, or a bunch of people in the box,'' Todman said. ''But it's part of football and you kind of get used to it. I've been seeing it for a couple of games now.''
Connecticut started the season 3-4, but has won three straight games, over West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse, to get back into contention for the conference title. Todman ran for 113, 222, and 130 yards in those games.
''Todman is a big part, but they also have a lot of weapons around him,'' Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said. ''They are playing at a high level, and confidence is such a big thing.''
Connecticut quarterback Zach Frazer agrees. He said the Huskies are in a good place right now, and they want to be in an even better place in two weeks.
''How we play,'' he said, ''is where we're going to end up.''