It’s been a long summer, but college football is back! Here’s a rundown of how the Huskies’ future opponents did in their opening games.
Boise State (1-0) - Sept. 8
The Broncos rolled to an easy 56-20 road win over Troy to open their season thanks largely in part to quarterback Brett Rypien, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Five different players scored a touchdown for Boise, and wide receiver Sean Modster led the way with seven receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos head back to the smurf turf to take on UConn in their home opener this coming weekend.
Rhode Island (1-0) - Sept. 15
Rhode Island fended off a late comeback from Delaware to squeak out a 21-19 road win in their season opener. The Rams racked up 160 yards on the ground and 170 through the air, with quarterback Jajuan Lawson (170 passing yards, 46 rushing yards) leading the charge.
Syracuse (1-0) - Sept. 22
The Syracuse offense got off to a hot start on the road against Western Michigan, with the Orange beating the Broncos 55-42. Quarterback Eric Dungey was a monster for Cuse, throwing for 184 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 200 yards (!) and another score.
While the Orange racked up 560 yards of offense, they were actually outgained by Western Michigan, who put up 621 total yards and averaged 8.6 yards per carry. So while the offense looked good and got the job done, the defense will need to improve if the Orange want to keep winning games in the ACC. They’ll have another solid chance at a win next week against FCS Wagner.
Cincinnati (1-0) - Sept. 29
Cincinnati rolled into the Rose Bowl and took down UCLA 26-17 to open their season and give the American their first Power Five win of 2018. The Bruins couldn’t contain Bearcats running back Michael Warren II, who ran for 142 yards on 35 carries and scored three touchdowns. Defensively, Cincinnati defensive tackle Cortez Broughton was a force with 3.5 sacks.
It’s still early, but for a UCLA team ranked 46th in S&P+ this preseason, this isn’t ideal. For Luke Fickell and Cincinnati, this could be the start of a much better season than 2017.
Memphis (1-0) - Oct. 6
The Tigers rolled to an easy 66-14 win over FCS foe Mercer. Quarterback Brady White was impressive in his Memphis debut, throwing for 358 yards and five touchdowns while only playing the first half. Overall, this offense looks as good as advertised, racking up 752 total yards and there’s a chance they put up another big number next week against Navy, who just gave up 59 points to Hawaii in their season opener.
South Florida (1-0) - Oct. 20
USF handled Elon easily in their season opener with a 34-14 victory. Quarterback Blake Barnett did most of the damage for the Bulls, throwing for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Randall St. Felix was Barnett’s favorite target in the win, catching seven passes for 143 yards and a touchdown as the Bulls racked up 515 yards of total offense.
UMass (1-1) - Oct. 27
The Minutemen lost badly to Boston College, 55-21, and it was not even as close as that score might indicate. UMass was down 55-7 in the fourth quarter before scoring two garbage time touchdowns.
This was actually their second game of the season, as UMass participated in Week Zero with a game against FCS Duquesne. One week after handling the Dukes at home, UConn’s week 9 opponent is not looking as feisty as many thought. The Minutemen rushed for 282 yards in the victory last week, but had no such luck against a solid Boston College front this past weekend, gaining just 66 yards on the ground. Their passing attack was efficient against Duquesne, but finished with just 249 passing yards along with two interceptions and a garbage-time touchdown.
Obviously there is a huge gap between Duquesne and Boston College, so we probably don’t need to react too strongly to either result, but still this was a dismal showing for UMass.
Tulsa (1-0) - Nov. 3
The Golden Hurricane opened the season with a win over FCS Central Arkansas. Quarterback Luke Skipper, who was named the starter shortly before the season started, completed 62 percent of hiss passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns while two running backs, Shamari Brooks (27 carries, 129 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Corey Taylor II (20 carries, 110 yards) each had excellent outings.
The game started back and forth and stayed that way into the fourth quarter but Tulsa eventually pulled away with two unanswered touchdowns to put the game away.
SMU (0-1) - Nov. 10
Despite having some decent hype heading into this season, SMU blew most of that good mojo with a bad loss to North Texas, 46-23.
The Mean Green were up 20-0 at the half, and 36-0 going into the fourth quarter while only allowing one first down up until that point. SMU didn’t get any points on the board until there was 8:11 left on the clock. North Texas is a good Conference USA team that had nine wins last season and finished 62nd in overall S&P+, but still SMU needs to do better than this in new head coach Sonny Dykes’ (and former UConn OC Rhett Lashlee’s) debut.
The Mustang defense allowed North Texas QB Mason Fine to throw for 444 yards and three touchdowns while completing 80 percent of his 50 pass attempts. Meanwhile, SMU’s high-powered offense was not unable to take advantage of the Mean Green’s weaker defense. Their rushing attack was non-existent and the passing game fared only slightly better, with QB Ben Hicks completing just 50 percent of his passes for 252 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick.
East Carolina (0-1) - Nov. 17
In a game that was postponed until Sunday due to lightning, ECU lost 28-23 to North Carolina A&T in the Pirates’ second straight FCS loss to open a season.
Temple (0-1) - Nov. 24
Double yikes. Temple also lost to an FCS opponent, falling 19-17 to Villanova.
On the plus side, UConn will end the season with five games against opponents who may not be as tough as previously thought. That could help the Huskies make an unexpected bowl push if they end up with a better-than-expected start to the season.