Here is Part 2 of our preseason Best Case/Worst Case scenarios involving the Big East. Time to state the cases for Connecticut.
This is the year Connecticut goes from a nice little story to national powerhouse.
Randy Edsall has his deepest team yet in Storrs, and the Huskies are poised for a run. They have a senior quarterback (Zach Frazer), a star tailback (Jordan Todman), a physically imposing offensive line, plus veterans like Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson on the defense. Edsall and his staff's coaching ability shores up some of the weak spots on the defense, and a team that lost its five games by a total of 15 points last season gets some karmic payback in 2010.
The year starts off with a bang, as UConn soundly thumps Michigan and former nemesis Rich Rodriguez by two touchdowns at the Big House. Entering the Top 25 off that win, the Huskies start to steamroll, beating Temple, Vanderbilt and Buffalo on the way to a 5-0 record.
On Oct. 8, they avenge last year's heartbreaker against Rutgers by pulling off their own last-second touchdown pass, as Frazer finds Kashif Moore for the 80-yard winning bomb. An easy win at Louisville sets up the biggest home game in UConn history when West Virginia comes to town. The Huskies finally slay the Mountaineers on a Friday night ESPN showcase when Todman scores on a clinching, 75-yard touchdown sprint. They move into the Top 10 for the first time in school history.
Sniffing such rarefied air is new to the program, and the team suffers its first bump in the road when Pitt quiets Rentschler Field with a road victory. But Connecticut rebounds to win its final three, clinching the Big East title and heading to its first-ever BCS game: the Orange Bowl against ACC champion Boston College.
This game is no contest as the Huskies stomp BC and offer the league payback for the Eagles' betrayal. Jasper Howard's family celebrates on the field with the team in Miami. In the locker room after the game, Jim Delany calls and offers Connecticut a spot in the Big Ten.
Beware the buzz team.
UConn has been full of optimism this offseason, but some red flags are waving. The defense is awfully young along the front, and the secondary was the most yielding in the Big East a year ago. There's no clear No. 1 receiver a la Marcus Easley a year ago. Frazer has been erratic in his career, and his top backup (Cody Endres) is currently suspended.
The season starts off on the wrong note, as Michigan gets ahead early and pours it on, with Rodriguez notching his second straight 66-21 win over Edsall. The Huskies stub their toe again in Week 3 against upstart Temple as Frazer throws four interceptions in the rain. That starts a mild quarterback controversy, but there's no one who can adequately replace him.
Rutgers dashes UConn's hopes with another comeback victory, while West Virginia continues its dominance in the series. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati also prove too talented for the Huskies to handle.
Needing a win at South Florida to attain bowl eligibility, Connecticut's players succumb to the unfamiliar December Florida heat as former coach Skip Holtz zooms his new program ahead in the league pecking order. A 5-7 record is vastly disappointing, but another school still lures Edsall away because of his previous track record.
Syracuse and Rutgers are invited to the Big Ten and Boston College blocks UConn's entry to the ACC, leaving the school in a conference no-man's land. The men's basketball team goes on probation, while the women's team is beset by a dozen torn ACLs. It's the longest winter anyone can remember in Storrs.