Connecticut's 2010 was more like two seasons in one.
There was the first seven games, in which the Huskies went 3-4 and failed to live up to the considerable buzz surrounding the program this preseason. Their defense got beat for big plays, they made critical errors at crucial times and they had quarterback turmoil.
Then there were the final five games, when UConn went 5-0 and looked every bit like the breakthrough team many had predicted for this year. The defense tightened up and started taking the ball away, the Huskies played with loose confidence and they finally had stability at quarterback.
There will be a lot of stories written in the lead-up to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl about how they turned their season around after a 26-0 loss to Louisville left them at 0-2 in the Big East. Players have said they were just sick of the way things had gone and decided to do something about it. Head coach Randy Edsall somehow got his team to relax and play without expectations, all the while knowing they couldn't lose another game if they wanted to win the Big East.
The one constant through this season was the UConn running game. Junior tailback Jordan Todman finished as the No. 2 runner in the country and had at least 100 yards in all but two games. Demoted to third string after four games, quarterback Zach Frazer finally settled into a groove after being reinstalled just before the five-game winning streak began. The Huskies' passing numbers are anemic, but Frazer has gotten them into the right plays and situations while mostly avoiding mistakes.
There were two seasons in one for Connecticut in 2010. The second part was good enough to make this a historic year.
Offensive MVP: Jordan Todman
And also the MVP of the Big East. He had 1,574 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and averaged more than 30 carries per game during the final five games.
Defensive MVP: Lawrence Wilson
The senior led the Big East in tackles for the second straight year, with 115. His interception return for a touchdown in the finale against South Florida was huge.
Turning point: The season looked ready to go down in flames when Edsall dismissed then-starting quarterback Cody Endres three days before the game against Louisville, in which the Huskies got shut out. Instead, they regrouped and came back to beat West Virginia in overtime the next game. They wouldn't lose again.
What's next: UConn could be the biggest underdog in BCS history when it faces Oklahoma in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. A good showing in that game could quiet the many skeptics. Edsall will be a hot candidate for open jobs across the country. The team loses Frazer, Wilson a couple of offensive lineman and possibly Todman if he goes to the NFL. But most of the starters return, meaning the Huskies could be strong contenders again in 2011.