Point/Counterpoint: Will UConn football make a bowl game?
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 22:10
Mike: Last year, the UConn football team fell 35-27 to No. 25 Cincinnati to end their season just out of bowl reach.This is not last year’s UConn football team.Unfortunately, this is also not the 2010-2011 team that made it to a BCS bowl. Though the defense has impressively let up less than 17 points per game so far (good for Top 25 in the country) and you cannot beat the fact that that we have a clear starting quarterback in Chandler Whitmer as opposed to the three-man rotation last year. The team has room for improvement, but you can bet that this year’s Huskies will be bowling come December.
Scott: No, the Huskies will be golfing. The Big East is having too strong of a season for this to happen. Ordinarily, the magic number of wins for a bowl appearance is six. If a team gets six wins they are “bowl eligible.” It’s just not going to happen. During the final stretch of the season, UConn plays two currently ranked opponents and a Pitt team that took down Virginia Tech. Even victories against weaker opponents can’t be assumed as they’ve been inconsistent. With a stagnant offense, there is no doubt UConn will be absent during this year’s bowl season.
Mike: Logistically, UConn needs four wins against Big East opponents in their final six games to earn a spot in a bowl game. If all goes according to plan (and I do not mean to be pessimistic, only realistic), UConn will lose their final two games to No. 18 Louisville and No. 21 Cincinnati.
But before that is Temple (2-2) this Saturday, whose passing game is currently last in the nation, South Florida (whose only convincing win this season has been over Chattanooga in their opener) and Pittsburgh (whose convincing loss to Youngstown State almost made me want to Google where Youngstown State is). Syracuse (3-3 after they lose to Rutgers this weekend) is also on the schedule and will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge in that four-game stretch. But with a little bit of offensive consistency, UConn should easily come out of the Carrier Dome with a W on Oct. 19.
Scott: Mike, your school spirit has blinded you from seeing the reality of what’s happening this season. UConn is not consistent enough to win four straight games going into Louisville and Cincinnati. Our offense doesn’t exist. Since you like stats so much, I’ll use a couple of my own. The Huskies ranked 89th in passing offense and 116th in rushing yards. To translate that for you: We can’t run and we can’t pass.
Plus, our “creative” play calling of running right, running left, and then throwing for a mile on third down hasn’t really been fooling people as of late. You claim that we can beat Syracuse, but I’m not sure we can. With their passing attack and our road performances this year, I don’t see it happening.
Mike: Scott, yes I love this school, but just because I am an optimist does not mean I’m blind. Yes, the offense needs to figure out why they can beat Maryland in College Park one week and then falter seven days later against a team like Western Michigan. But the Huskies have never been an offensive powerhouse. Heck, I’m pretty sure the majority of our firepower the year we went to the Fiesta Bowl came from our kicker.
UConn is a defensive-minded team and always will be. Behind the prowess of Yawin Smallwood, Sio Moore and Trevardo Williams (11 sacks between the three of them so far), no quarterback is going to go out of their way to take on our defense.
Scott: Yes, Mike, you’re right. The only difference between our team in 2012 and the 2010 Fiesta Bowl runner-ups is a great kicking game. You’ve really cracked the case. Clearly it wasn’t our first team pre-season All-American at linebacker and the rest of the defense that is light years beyond where we are now. Might I also address the fact that we had Randy Edsall at the helm of that team? Any comparison to that team is asinine and unfair; we’re a different program now.
UConn’s defense isn’t strong enough to carry the whole team. A team still needs to score. While we were able to score against Maryland (a respected member of the ACC), I believe this was more due to the high emotion surrounding the game since their head coach is our ex-head coach. Until UConn figures out how to score consistently, we will not be bowling.