The endings of the last two football seasons have been pretty unexciting, to say the least.
In 2013, the team got off to a 0-9 start, dooming its season from the beginning with a loss to Towson in the opener, and did not get into the win column until late-November.
The Huskies had a similarly wretched 2014, with a win over Central Florida on November 1 marking the first, and only, FBS win that year.
By the time the final game of the season rolled around, the mood was more like a funeral than a football game. Whatever pleasure we could derive from the 2013 season-ending blowout win over Memphis rang hollow with the Huskies holding a 2-9 record going into the game and an uncertain coaching situation.
Anyone who attended and stuck through the SMU game to close out 2014 deserves a medal.
This year, it looked like the Huskies were on a similar, if only slightly better, path.
Despite a 2-0 start, the middle of the season was marked with disappointing losses, hitting a valley at 3-5 after a blowout loss in Cincinnati. A solid East Carolina team would be coming to town having played a Thursday game the week before while the Huskies would be playing on short rest. Two out of the remaining three games after that would be coming against ranked teams.
Those who were there at the Rent or watched on television that Friday night, as the Huskies upset ECU convincingly, witnessed the turning point of UConn's season. The Huskies have now won three straight, thanks to an unyielding defense, heading into tonight's game against Temple.
Bob Diaco would disagree that that game, or any point during the regular season, was a turning point. He felt his team turned a corner during winter conditioning, and later added that he and his staff had set bowl eligibility as a goal for this season.
So go ahead and keep believing the Huskies have no chance. Temple holds an impressive 9-2 record and will be playing at home to clinch an appearance in the American Athletic Conference championship game. The Owls are 39th in the country in Football Outsiders' total efficiency rankings while UConn is 84th. By all indications, they are a much better team.
But so was East Carolina, and so was Houston. Instead of finding unique, creative, and frustrating ways to lose, Diaco's Huskies have been fighting and clawing to victory lately.
There's a decent chance Bryant Shirreffs isn't playing today. If that is the case, it means Tim Boyle, and maybe a little bit of Garrett Anderson, under center for the Huskies. Diaco has never hesitated to pull the trigger on trick plays or risky play calls, and with most of the pressure resting on the other sideline, he can feel free to express himself. The Huskies will need to keep Temple's defense off-balance, and offensive creativity is one way to do it.
Defensively, we just need more of the same. Temple operates a run-heavy spread attack that is not so dissimilar to what Houston tries to do. Its offense, ranked 75th in the country in S&P+ efficiency, will be going up against a UConn defense that is currently ranked 38th. On the other side of the coin, UConn's 111th-ranked offense will line up against Temple's No. 16 defense.
Despite a discrepancy between these two teams in the records and ratings, UConn can win this game. If the defense holds up and the offense eliminates turnovers, which it has been doing a pretty good job of, it should be a low-scoring slugfest. And if there is anything that we know for sure about UConn Football, it's that it can win ugly games.
Which is fine by me, because a seventh win this season would be nothing short of beautiful.
But more importantly, win or lose, the season will go on.