I continue my team-by-team look at each schedule in the Big East.
Up today: UConn
Nonconference schedule: The Huskies have a manageable nonconference schedule, though we said the same thing last season. Two of the five games are against bowl teams from a year ago -- NC State and Western Michigan. UConn does get the Wolfpack at home, so that is a positive. But NC State is expected to be better this season, especially with cornerback David Amerson and quarterback Mike Glennon returning. Anybody who watched the Belk Bowl saw how special Amerson is as a player. Western Michigan was a game UConn should have won last year, so I have to think the Huskies will probably be a favorite. And I know everybody expects this team to beat Maryland and former coach Randy Edsall. UConn should really go no worse than 4-1.
Conference schedule: UConn gets three of the teams expected to be near the top of the Big East on the road. That includes opening Big East play at Rutgers. The following week, the Huskies get new Big East member Temple at home in a game featuring Paul Pasqualoni and his former assistant, Steve Addazio. There are three national games already set, so those are big opportunities for the Huskies to prove last season was just a blip. Two are Friday night games -- at Syracuse and Pitt.
Good news: The nonconference schedule sets up really nicely for UConn. Whoever wins the quarterback job will get a good early test against NC State -- the first FBS team UConn plays on the season. UConn will not play a better cornerback this season than Amerson, expected to be a preseason All-American. UConn will also get an emotional test in its game against Maryland, but that one is early as well. The toughest conference road stretch has back-to-back games against Syracuse and USF, with six days rest in between. Not backbreaking in the least.
Bad news: NC State will be coming off its game against UConn against Tennessee. A win or a loss there will probably mean more motivation against the Huskies. Opening conference play at Rutgers is probably not the ideal situation for a team eager to get back into the league race, either. UConn also has to play eight straight weeks before getting a bye. Those byes come twice in a four-week span.
Best case: UConn runs through nonconference play undefeated and is average in the Big East, to go 8-4.
Worst case: Some of the nonconference games that look winnable on paper end up biting the Huskies, and they struggle in Big East play to go 5-7 again.