THREE THINGS TO WATCH: Buffalo (1-2) at UConn (2-2)
1. UConn’s offense: Last week the Huskies produced 24 points – all from an offensive effort - but still lost to Western Michigan. The fact that UConn didn’t need a defensive touchdown or a special teams TD to score 24 points was encouraging. If the Huskies hadn’t fallen behind 17-0, those numbers might have been more meaningful – and UConn might have returned with a victory. UConn needs to show more balance, involve five or six receivers, and score more points against Buffalo. It’s all about momentum, steady improvement and getting ready for the Big East games.
2. Buffalo’s passing game: Buffalo running back Branden Oliver ranks fifth in the NCAA in rushing yards at 142 per game. But Oliver has a leg injury and it seems unlikely he will play against the Huskies. Word out of Buffalo is that the Bulls have been working on their passing game. Not sure that Buffalo can have that much success against the UConn secondary. If the UConn linebackers can shut down the underneath routes, the Bulls will be very limited offensively. This is where the Huskies need to show their superiority.
3. The Rentschler Field crowd: The road showing by UConn fans at Maryland was so impressive. I guess the Randy Edsall revenge factor was there. More so, I think it was an excellent showing by friends and relatives of UConn players from that Maryland-DC-Virginia area. But the home crowds at The Rent? Not so impressive. Both home games have been far short of sellouts. Attendance for the N.C. State game was smaller than the UMass game. Even more bothersome are all the empty seats when the Huskies are introduced in pregame. Late arriving and early departing crowds do not fall in the category of tradition building. Big-time programs have big-time fans that stay from start to finish. Crowds can actually inspire their teams to victory, but UConn “fans” don’t seem to buy into that. Think of Robert De Niro’s character in “Meet The Parents” and remember, “I’m watching you Focker.” People are watching.
BIG EAST POWER RATINGS
1. Rutgers (4-0): The Scarlet Knights went into genuine college football territory and defeated Arkansas in front of 72,543 hostile fans. No, the Razorbacks aren’t at their usual level, but three road wins for Rutgers is impressive (only team in the nation that can claim that).
2. Louisville (4-0): Not all that impressed with a 28-21 win at Florida International. That’s why the Cardinals drop from No. 1 in the Big East.
3. Cincinnati (2-0): I think the Bearcats are pretty decent. But (imagine me assuming the voice of comedian Lewis Black now), HOW SHOULD I KNOW? THEY’VE ONLY PLAYED TWO GAMES.
4. UConn (2-2): That win at Maryland is the only thing keeping the Huskies this high. That, and the fact the rest of the league really stinks.
5. Pitt (2-2): Pitt visits Syracuse on Oct. 5 in a big game in the ACC division of the Big East.
6. USF (2-2): Hey Bulls, you just lost at Ball State and Saturday’s opponent is Florida State. Forget about the trip to Disney World.
7. Syracuse (1-3): Thank goodness the people in Upstate New York can look forward to basketball season.
8. Temple (1-2): Remember when the Owls were chased out of the Big East? Aren’t you glad they returned?
THIS WEEK’S BIG EAST SCHEDULE
Saturday, September 29
Buffalo at Connecticut..................................... Noon
BIG EAST Network Game of the Week
Television: BIG EAST Network
Series: Connecticut leads, 15-4
Last Meeting: Sept. 24, 2011 — Connecticut, 17-3
Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati........................ 3:30 p.m.
Series: Virginia Tech leads, 5-4
Last Meeting: Jan. 1, 2009 — Virginia Tech, 20-7
Florida State at USF........................................6 p.m.
Series: USF leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: Sept. 26, 2009 — USF, 17-7
Louisville at Southern Mississippi...................8 p.m.
Television: CBS Sports Network
Series: Southern Mississippi leads, 18-10-1
Last Meeting: Dec. 21, 2010 —Louisville, 31-28
Next Game: Oct. 5 at Syracuse
Next Game: Oct. 6 vs. Connecticut
Next Game: Oct. 5 vs. Pittsburgh
Next Game: Oct. 6 vs. USF