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UConn's Most Important Football Wins: #5

UConn christened Rentschler Field by obliterating a Big Ten team. Not a good Big Ten team, or even an okay one, but Indiana did play in the Big Ten. And UConn crushed them.

Box Score

I grew up in Connecticut as a UConn basketball fan. As I went away to college in Washington, D.C, I kept tabs on the basketball team and was kept up to date on the football team’s transition to I-A from my father.

Despite the updates, it never dawned on me that UConn was about to become a real football program. In the summer of 2003, I got my Dad two tickets for his birthday to the home opener against Indiana almost on a lark – like, let’s see what that’s about.

We have had season tickets for the past 10 years.

Upon arriving at the Rent for the first time, I was completely and total stunned.

"Whoa!" I exclaimed as we turned in from Silver Lane. "This is a real stadium!"

Frankly, I don’t know what I was expecting but I had failed to comprehend what was taking place. The place was relatively packed – about 1500 tickets short of a sellout. The opponent was a Big Ten team – Indiana – and its quarterback was the immortal Matt LoVecchio, who had led Notre Dame to the Fiesta Bowl in 2000. For my Dad, a Notre Dame grad, everything about this scene was stunning.

Then something even more stunning happened when the game started – UConn was much, much better than the team from the Big Ten.

If there is one regret I have about UConn football since its rise to FBS, it is the knee injury to Terry Caulley because we were deprived of seeing how good he could have become. He was great in 2002. Against Indiana, he was unstoppable. Even with Dan Orlovsky under center, Caulley was the best player on the field. He rushed for 166 yards on only 22 carries. I fully understand that the 2003 Indiana team was one of the worst in recent Big Ten memory – but they were still a Big Ten team that were getting shredded by UConn’s running back.

Orlovsky had a great day himself, throwing for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards.

It was a completely dominating performance from beginning to end. When Caulley scampered in for a fourth-quarter touchdown to make it 34-10, well, the game had been over for a while.

Leaving the Rent that day, it felt like anything was possible. UConn wasn’t even a member of the Big East yet and it felt like major college football had arrived in Connecticut.

One of the things that upset me the most about the failed Coach Pasqualoni era is how that feeling had faded. When you tailgated or got ready to watch UConn in the past three years, there was a palpable sense of dread. You were expecting the worst.

Starting with this game against Indiana and continuing through the 2010 season, UConn fans tended to expect the best. It was a fantastic feeling.

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