Saturday, December 4, 2010
UConn-South Florida pregame ponderables
By Brian Bennett
TAMPA, Fla. -- Greetings from Raymond James Stadium, site of the final Big East game of the 2010 regular season.
It hasn't been a good season for the league by any measurement, but at least we're in for an exciting finish. Unless you just woke up from a Rip Van Winkle-sized nap, you already know that Connecticut will win a share of the Big East title and the all-important BCS automatic bid with a victory. South Florida is the most popular team in West Virginia this evening, as a Bulls win pushes the Mountaineers to the BCS.
A very pleasant night awaits in Tampa. The temperatures are in the low 60s, which feels great to me even though I heard a few locals complain Friday that it was "chilly." (Oh, spoiled Floridians). But that's good news for Connecticut, which won't have to worry about unfamiliar heat or humidity.
Who will start at quarterback for South Florida? Injured B.J. Daniels was listed as questionable; he came out to the field before anybody and started throwing at about 5 p.m. He wasn't wearing a noticeable brace or wrap on his balky quad, but he also was just throwing from a stationary position and not running around. If I had to bet, I'd say walk-on Bobby Eveld starts, but we probably see both guys.
The Bulls have been winning with smoke and mirrors on offense anyway; their biggest conundrum is how to stop the UConn running game that has plowed over everybody. I really like what Mark Snyder has done with the defense this year and think he can come up with a scheme that puts pressure on Huskies quarterback Zach Frazer to make plays in the passing game. But others have had the same idea and left with Jordan Todman's cleat marks on their chests.
I'll be really interested to see how this game starts. UConn is playing with all the pressure, and how will the Huskies deal with that? USF doesn't have nearly as much to play for -- a win probably means a Hyundai Sun Bowl appearance instead of the Meineke Car Care or BBVA Compass Bowl -- but it is Senior Night and the atmosphere here is usually pretty rowdy for night games.
I expect it to be a defensive, grind-it-out kind of game, but this Big East season has been anything but predictable. Back with more soon ...