As part of TheUConnBlog’s 2011 Football Preview Weekish, we’re counting down the days until the Huskies' season opener against Fordham on Sept. 1. Today, we take a look at UConn's fourth opponent: the Buffalo Bulls.
Anything can happen in a rivalry game.
So if the Huskies' date in Buffalo for their fourth game of the 2011 regular season were to be played in EA Sports' NCAA Football series sometime around the mid-00s, well, then this one might turn into a barnburner.
However, IRL, the Sept. 24 matchup will serve as nothing more than a band-aid or quick pick-me-up should UConn stumble in its proceeding two out-of-conference games, against Vanderbilt and Iowa State; aside from Fordham the Bulls, who won just two games last year, are by far the easiest team the Huskies will face next season.
Still, despite what's likely to be a shellacking on the field, the game will be a transition point of sorts from one UConn regime to the next.
No one game embodies the Randy Edsall era tmore han the Huskies' 38-20 victory over Buffalo in the 2008 International Bowl. In his final performance as a Husky, Donald Brown, perhaps the greatest player in program history, rushed for 261 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, more than double the amount of Buffalo back James Starks, himself an accomplished ball-carrier and future pro.
The passing game, however, reached a new low, as Tyler Lorenzen attempted just six passes - total - and connected on just four, for 49 yards and a touchdown. No UConn receiver would catch more than one ball on the day, and its second-leading pass catcher was cornerback Darius Butler (one catch, 16 yards).
The Huskies would somewhat make up for the one-sided showing last season by putting up 45 points and throwing for 233 yards against the Bulls in a midseason drubbing. But it did little to wash away the lasting impression -- one that haunted Edsall for most of the past half-decade - that the head coach's boring-as-all-get-out, ball-control offense was only good enough to just stay above the status quo
If Paul Pasqualoni, a coach cut from the same cloth as Edsall, wants to make his mark here in Storrs -- even if it's only symbolically - this would be the time to do it.
Opponent: Buffalo Bulls
Date / time / TV: Saturday, Sept. 24 / 6 p.m. / SNY
Site: UB Stadium, Buffalo
Coach: Jeff Quinn (second season, 2-10 at Buffalo)
Official Website: http://www.buffalobulls.com/sports/fball/
On SBNation: Bull Run
S. 3 at Pittsburgh
S. 10 Stony Brook
S. 17 at Ball State
S. 24 Connecticut
O. 1 at Tennessee
O. 8 Ohio
O. 15 at Temple
O. 22 Northern Illinois
O. 29 at Miami (OH)
N. 12 at Eastern Michigan
N. 19 AkronN. 25 Bowling Green
Series with UConn: UConn leads, 14-4
Last meeting: UConn 45, Buffalo 21 (Sept. 25, 2010 at Rentschler Field)
2010 record: 2-10 (1-7 MAC)
Best 2010 win: Buffalo 28, Bowling Green 26 (Oct. 2, 2010 at Bowling Green, OH); Buffalo's only win against I-A competition.
Worst 2010 loss: Akron 22, Buffalo 14 (Nov. 26, 2010 at Akron, OH); Akron's only win, period.
2010 team offensive stats: 15.6 PPG, 113 rush yds/game (3.5 per rush), 155 pass yds/game (5.3 per pass)
2010 team defensive stats: 35.1 PPG, 164 rush yds/game (4.3 per rush), 264 pass yds/game (8.9 per pass)
Of note: The Bulls have played in one bowl game in their 12 years in Division I-A, losing to UConn in the 2009 International Bowl. That was the year they stunned a 12-0 Bowling Green team in the MAC Championship Game.
Returning starters: 8 (offense), 3 (defense)
Experts say: "Could be an underdog in their first 6 MAC games ..." -Phil Steele
"With most of its skill position players coming back, Buffalo will try to avoid having the nation's worst offense again." -Lindy's
UConn wins if: They know what's good for them.
Buffalo wins if: Tecmo Bull Thurman Thomas starts at running back.
Bottom line: The game should be a cakewalk. In Dr. Saturday's recent debriefing post on the 2011 Huskies, the Fordham and Buffalo games are the only ones for which the good Doc outright predicted a victory. (And who am I to not take the advice of a doctor?)
If it isn't, pray for Mojo.