Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Connecticut take by Big East blogger Brian Bennett: Connecticut figures to be a heavy underdog against Oklahoma. It's a role to which the Huskies grown quite accustomed.
The Huskies have had skeptics since the school decided to jump to the FBS level for the 2002 season. Billed as a sleeper before this year, they stumbled out of the gate with a 3-4 record while losing their first two Big East conference games. Some on the lunatic fringe even called for head coach Randy Edsall's dismissal.
That adversity suited UConn well. Playing with no margin for error after that rough start, the team has not lost since.
The Huskies often make you wonder how they get it done, with a passing stats that only an option-based team could love and players most hardcore fans have never heard of. But there's no real secret to their success. They run the ball behind a mammoth, well-coached offensive line and through the nation's No. 2 rusher, junior Jordan Todman. They're solid, if undersized, on defense. And they have an outstanding kicking game, which led the way in the BCS-clinching win at South Florida.
Mostly, Connecticut just figures out ways to win and is mentally tough enough to accomplish it. Hardly anybody will give the Huskies a chance to beat the Sooners. That's just the way they will like it.
Oklahoma take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: If Bob Stoops can't win this one, well... who knows? Linebacker Travis Lewis reminded those in attendance at Oklahoma's Big 12 Championship postgame news conference the Sooners were on a one-game bowl winning streak, but it's the big ones that matter. The Sooners are back in the BCS, and will get their chance to end a five-game BCS bowl losing streak that's included three BCS National Championship games and a pair of Fiesta Bowls.
During that stretch, the Sooners have run into some pretty elite teams. Four-loss UConn wouldn't qualify. The Huskies qualified by winning the Big East, but now face the seven-time Big 12 champion Sooners. Last year, injuries to key contributors everywhere sent the Sooners to an 8-5 season and a bid in the Sun Bowl. The earlier than expected experienced play by Oklahoma's young players like quarterback Landry Jones is paying off in 2010.
A pair of fantastic defensive performances against Oklahoma State and Nebraska away from home has the Sooners back on top of the Big 12 and in the BCS, with a great chance to end the drought that's marred the second half of Bob Stoops' decade-plus tenure at Oklahoma.
The Fiesta Bowl looks like the biggest mismatch of the five BCS games, and for evidence, look no further than a comparison of losses. Oklahoma's only two came on the road to Big 12 teams who earned a share of a division title. Two of UConn's four losses came to Temple and Rutgers, a pair of teams that won't be bowling this postseason. That said, this is why they play the games. We thought the same thing when the Sooners matched up against Boise State. Considering Bob Stoops' five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games, anything could happen.