If there is one overarching theme to next month's Football Preview Monthish (mark your calendars now), it's that UConn football is set to win now.
That might be a bigger deal than I'm making it seem. UConn is known for its lack of sexy recruiting classes and the aw-shucks, business-like approach of Randy Edsall. Perhaps it might begin to be recognized for its football prowess. Personally, I think it's high time people accept that UConn will be running them off the gridiron from now on. After 10 years of preparation, we're at the jumping off point for the coming juggernaut that is UConn football. Hit the jump for at least a partial explanation of why we're so excited.
It's been 10 years since UConn officially joined Division I-A. It took a bit longer, until 2004 - five seasons into this ambitious experiment - to put together a team deep enough to compete in the tattered remains of the Big East (they went 3-3 in a league without Miami or Virginia Tech and with pre-turnaround Rutgers and Temple).
Two lost years followed before Edsall managed to stockpile enough talent to compete with in the newly competitive Big East. The 2007 team was excellent according to wins and losses, but exceedingly lucky according to anyone who watched them. The 66-21 loss to West Virginia on the final Saturday in November was a reality check of the highest order.
That 2007 team is pretty easily the most successful UConn football team of all time, which I suppose then makes it the best UConn football team ever (much like how the Jets were technically one of the four best teams in the NFL last year).
UConn has a Big East co-championship banner from that season, after all. Never mind that the 2007 squad had six-win talent and 12-win luck, never mind that it's hard to take seriously a championship earned when the Mountaineers spent every last bullet on Nov. 24 and saved none for Dec. 1.
But that team's success was just the absolute best-case scenario season for the UConn football program, embryo stage. After last year, a year in which UConn was 15 points away from 13-0, it now feels like the sky is the limit.
This isn't to say UConn's a lock for the Orange Bowl (though it is the official position of this blog that UConn is a lock for the Orange Bowl); only that there are no games in which UConn winning would be an upset, for the first time I can remember.
Take a look at the schedule: UConn can hang with all the Big East teams, Michigan is not nearly what it was, and Vanderbilt is the second toughest OOC game.
Take a look at the talent: an underrated, veteran offensive line, a quarterback and wide receiver corps in the second year of a new offensive system, an excellent running back, one of the best defensive front sevens in the Big East. There's a clear Achilles' heel at this point - the secondary - but I see no reason that, at a minimum, this battle-hardened roster cannot reach 9 or 10 wins against this schedule, and remain in contention for a BCS bowl game deep into the season.
In the end, this is all just an extremely drawn out way of saying that I am very, very excited about football season this year. I just get the feeling that it's going to be something special.