Before this season, you needed to have been pretty optimistic to think UConn Football would have three wins after six games. It just didn't seem very likely after the way last season played out. In fact, there were many who questioned if UConn would even have a single win at this point, who thought Villanova would deflate the entire season by beating the Huskies in the season opener.
To add another layer of doubt and confusion going into the season, Bob Diaco went rogue and declared a rivalry game with UCF. Though the rivalry was widely ridiculed, the results on the field suggest maybe Diaco should start thinking about announcing a few more rivalry games this offseason.
Here we are on October 14th, and UConn has won three games after beating UCF 40-13. The Huskies haven't had three wins this early in the season since 2012 (they would lose the next four after that third win and finished 5-7). They haven't won a game by this much since Casey Cochran quarterbacked a 45-10 win over Memphis to finish the 2013 season. UConn Football hasn't won a conference game in October since Randy Edsall was head coach. No matter how bad UCF may be this year, it was extremely encouraging to see UConn stomp a team on the road to capture its third win of the season.
There's even legitimate talk of UConn, the same UConn team which finished last in the AAC preseason media poll, the same one ranked one of the thirty worst teams in the country by every major national media outlet going into the season, winning six games and qualifying for a bowl game. UConn Football hasn't been to a bowl game since the much-ballyhooed 2011 Fiesta Bowl appearance.
And boy would this senior class deserve a trip to a bowl game. After Edsall's departure, Paul Pasqualoni's gross failure, moving to the American Athletic Conference, and winning five games in the previous two seasons, these guys deserve to be part of a winner.
The next opponent on the schedule, South Florida, is coming off an impressive performance of its own in a win over Syracuse, 45-24. The week before, the Bulls played a very good Memphis team down to the wire at home. Despite getting their season off to a rocky start, they seem to have turned a corner.
The Bulls will bring a strong defense into Rentschler Field Saturday, with the team currently 10th in FBS in tackles for a loss (TFL) per game, and with three players over 4 sacks so far on the season. UConn's offense took a major step forward last week, but it helped to be playing a really, really bad team. The USF-UConn Football history has taught us to expect an ugly battle and this year should be no different featuring two defensively strong teams.
Both teams have shown offensive improvement from last year, with USF's driven by a schematic shift and UConn's by personnel. Still, I would expect a relatively low-scoring affair. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers has looked very good lately, and is a serious threat with his legs, but UConn's defense has seen enough of that kind of player under center to hopefully be ready for it this weekend.
UConn is a 3-point favorite in this one, and though this may be the best USF team we have seen in a few years (not really saying much), I think the Huskies should be able to take the win here. The UCF game was a huge confidence booster for this team and hopefully the Homecoming crowd can provide that extra edge to help the Huskies get the win and really ignite the post-season conversation.