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Column: UConn Grinds Its Way to Bowl Eligibility in Special Season

Not many people saw bowl eligibility as a real possibility this season.

It hasn't been glamorous, but it has been a special season for the UConn football team.
It hasn't been glamorous, but it has been a special season for the UConn football team.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Diaco's rebuild of the UConn football team is still in the Ugly Duckling phase, but screw it, because the Huskies beat Houston Saturday night and are now bowl eligible.

Only UConn could make such an ugly win over an undefeated ranked opponent look so amazing. The Huskies lost their starting quarterback and a starting tight end in the first quarter and had to grind out the result offensively while hoping the defense could limit the Cougars.

Somehow, it happened.

And now the Huskies are (barring some unforeseen circumstance) going to a bowl game. How crazy is that? This team was 2-10 last year and ended the season with a loss to an 0-11 SMU team that dominated the second half on UConn's home field.

Before the season, I predicted a 4-8 finish this year. That still would have been a great turnaround from last season, and with all the youth and inexperience on the team, it would have been a nice building block to 2016. I really thought this team was a year away from a bowl.

I guess the Huskies didn't want to wait.

Give a lot of credit to the Huskies. For as ugly as it was, they grinded out six wins, and they could certainly grind out a seventh at Temple next Saturday. Even a young team struggling to put points on the board all year can find its way to success, especially with a coach like Diaco, who said his team fought its way to this point through blind faith.

Admittedly, I love ugly football, so I have rather enjoyed the 2015 Huskies' ability to make the 2010 Huskies look like the best BCS team to ever come out of the Big East Conference (may it rest in peace).

I'm a defensive fan overall. Those 50-49 basketball games between UConn and Cincinnati are my favorite. I often hail soccer teams' performances in a 0-0 draw. That 9-6 loss to Missouri earlier this season was amazing, in my opinion.

Oh yea, UConn could have realistically won at Missouri and should have beat USF. This is a team that could be 8-3 right now and in the East Division title race in the American. Weird.

I won't bother anyone with how terrible the offense looked Saturday and how that ball should have been intercepted. Watching those fans storm the field last night made it clear UConn football is back on the rise. No matter what the growing pains look like, things are looking good under Diaco's guidance. The fans who have stuck by this team deserve to drink it all in.

This wasn't supposed to happen this year. This is ahead of schedule.

Savor it.