KICKOFF: 12:00 PM
TV: ESPN2, WatchESPN
ANNOUNCERS: Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Kelly Stauffer (color analyst), Kris Budden (sideline)
RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network (WTIC 1080 AM, WILI 1400 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WGCH 1490 AM); TuneIn; Sirius 112 (Virginia feed), XM 193 (Virginia feed), Sirius/XM Internet 955 (Virginia feed)
ANNOUNCERS: Joe D'Ambrosio (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Ken Sweitzer (sideline)
POINT SPREAD: Virginia - 10.5
SERIES HISTORY: This is the fourth time the UConn Huskies and Virginia Cavaliers have met on the gridiron and the Huskies lead the series 2-1. UConn won last year 13-10 on a Bobby Puyol field goal with 1:33 remaining.
By the Numbers
16- It’s been 16 days since the Huskies last saw game action, handling Holy Cross for a 27-20 victory on Aug. 31. UConn’s matchup last weekend against USF was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. While the Huskies are now making up that game against USF, it’ll be interesting to see whether the extended time off is a benefit or a burden against the Cavaliers.
84- After finishing second on the team with 84 tackles, senior linebacker Vontae Diggs will make his season debut against Virginia after missing UConn’s first game due to a knee injury. Diggs will slide back into his starting role and add another key cog to the Huskies’ defense.
97.1- With UConn trailing in the second half to Holy Cross, head coach Randy Edsall decided to replace starter David Pindell with Bryant Shirreffs. Shirreffs, who spent most of last season as the Huskies’ starter, posted a 97.1 quarterback rating with 124 yards and a touchdown to help lead UConn to its first win of 2017 season.
66- In Virginia’s 34-17 loss to Indiana last weekend, Cavaliers quarterback Kurt Benkert attempted a program-record 66 pass attempts, throwing for 259 yards and one touchdown. The East Carolina transfer has already thrown for over 400 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in two games this season and should be an important test for the Huskies’ secondary.
3- UConn’s number of road wins since 2013. The Huskies’ last road win came in a 7-3 thriller at Tulane on Nov. 7, 2015. In that span, UConn went two entire seasons (2014 and 2016) without winning a road game. All three road wins in this span have been against American Athletic Conference members, and UConn has not beat a non-conference foe on the road since a 24-21 win over Maryland on Sept. 15, 2012.
Keys to the Game
UConn rushing attack
If the Huskies can move the ball on the ground with Nate Hopkins and Arkeel Newsome, it’ll mean good things for the offense as a whole. In Week 1, William & Mary’s top two rushers notched 143 yards on 26 carries. Indiana didn’t have as strong of a ground game against the Cavaliers in Week 2, but didn’t really need to.
UVA’s secondary is deep and experienced. Keeping it off balance, or at least making sure there aren’t too many 3rd and long situations will be key. The run game is going to have to make sure that happens.
Secondary (Please) Step Up
It was understandable for the Husky secondary to struggle in the season opener but still wasn’t very encouraging to see the way it was picked apart by Holy Cross. UVA is no aerial juggernaut—quarterback Kurt Benkert is averaging just under 5.0 passing yards per attempt and finished 99th in the country with 6.29 last season—but with the Huskies’ stout front
seven six, the passing game will be the Cavaliers’ best chance to move the ball.
This goes for any football game, obviously, but with two good defenses and struggling offenses, this is going to be a low-scoring affair and one big mistake could make the difference. UConn’s two turnovers against Holy Cross were the reason the Huskies took a deficit into the half. They’ll need to be better with the ball and make sure to avoid giving up big plays on Saturday.
A bad pun with the word ‘Sheriff’
The Husky offense looked completely different with Bryant Shirreffs under center against Holy Cross. If he can maintain that same confidence and efficiency, we could see the Huskies start the season 2-0 with a game against hapless East Carolina next on the schedule.