Papajohns.com Bowl: Connecticut (7-5) vs. South Carolina (7-5):
Jan. 2, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
The reason why UConn is going bowling is because of its late-season offensive improvement.
The Huskies are known mostly for their running game, and backs Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards this season. More than that, though, the passing game finally started to develop late in the year with quarterback Zach Frazer at the helm. UConn scored 45 points against Cincinnati, 33 at Notre Dame, 56 against Syracuse and 29 in the snow against South Florida on Saturday, engineering a winning field goal drive with less than a minute to play.
Just how far has the Connecticut offense come? Playing South Carolina should provide a good measuring stick.
The Gamecocks had one of the SEC's toughest defenses this season, allowing just 20 points per game. They held Alabama to that number and Florida to 24.
It's funny, because South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is a legendary offensive guru, while UConn's Randy Edsall built his reputation on defense. But now Spurrier is relying on his defense, while Edsall is hoping to outscore people while covering up holes on the other side of the ball.
The Huskies are one of the best stories of the bowl season, having overcome the death of Jasper Howard in October to rally together and make the postseason. They should get the bulk of the support from the nonpartisan fans sitting in the Birmingham stands and watching this game on TV.