Paul Pasqualoni's reign with the Huskies has begun with consecutive 5-7 seasons. Which game looms largest in his quest for a bowl bid in Year 3?
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Most important game: Oct. 12 vs. USF
Why: UConn needs to win at least six games this year to prove that the program is moving forward in the Pasqualoni era. That's no easy task from a squad that lost five players to the NFL draft, but it is certainly manageable.
The Huskies host Michigan on Sept. 21, but other than that, the nonconference slate has three very winnable games: Towson, Maryland and at Buffalo. Late-season Big East games at Temple (Nov. 23) and against Memphis (Dec. 7) are games UConn needs to win, too, if it wants to call the 2013 campaign a successful one.
We'll throw USF into that group, and we'll call that contest the most important one because of when it comes -- one week before a three-game stretch at Cincinnati, at UCF and against Louisville, arguably the top-three preseason contenders for the conference crown. Any one of those wins would be huge for the Huskies, but to call any of them must-wins is probably asking too much from a program that has not gone bowling since 2010.
The Bulls beat the Huskies last year for their only Big East win in 2012. They should be improved in 2013 under first-year coach Willie Taggart, but the game is at UConn and, as stated earlier, a winnable one for the Huskies (on the surface) should they put together a solid season. It would put the program, in a best-case scenario, at 4-1 entering the aforementioned three-game stretch. It would give the Huskies some momentum going into games against heavily favored teams, and it would put them in position to survive the stretch regardless of the outcomes.
It starts with taking care of business, something UConn needs to do in 2013 if it wants to make the leap into postseason play.