Our series taking a team-by-team look at the marquee nonconference faces the future American Athletic Conference will see in the fall continues today with UConn.
To read previous entries, click here.
Offensive opponent to watch: Michigan LT Taylor Lewan
I could have chosen a more dazzling offensive player like Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs, but the truth is UConn will not face a better player on offense this year than Lewan. Last season, he was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and found himself on virtually every All-America list. He decided to return to school for his senior season, making him the premier tackle in the country. Sporting News ranked him the No. 11 overall player in the nation. His size (6-foot-8, 308 pounds) and athleticism make him extremely difficult to get around. And UConn will have to try and get past him without supremely athletic Trevardo Williams. With Williams gone, Tim Willman is expected to enter the starting lineup. It's a huge task for anybody.
Defensive opponent to watch: Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
UConn fans may remember Mack from a year ago, when the Huskies beat the Bulls 24-17. He is a player worth keeping an eye on once again, as he enters the season off career highs in tackles (94), tackles for loss (21) and sacks (eight). The TFL total ranked fourth in the nation, bringing him into 2013 as the NCAA’s active career leader in tackles for loss (with 56). He will be especially important to keep an eye on for a UConn offensive line that goes into the season off two straight mediocre seasons. If he can get behind the line and slow down Lyle McCombs, it could be a long day for the Huskies offense. Last year against UConn, Mack forced a fumble, had one sack, and 3.5 tackles for loss.