It is finally here. College football kicked off last night with two hyped games that almost turned into a brawl because of some sore-loser, immature, out-of-control punk from Oregon. Safe to say if someone did this at Connecticut, Randy Edsall would have him kicked off the team before he made it to the locker room.
Connecticut kicks off tomorrow night in Athens, OH at 7PM on ESPN360.com. We will go game by game to try to figure out how 2009 will shape out for a Huskies team that has more talent than any that has come before it.
9/5 - @ Ohio 7PM - The Huskies face the Ohio Bobcats of the MAC in a game that Connecticut should win. UConn has more athletes, they have more speed and they have more talent than Ohio. It is the first game of the year, a new offense seeing action for the first time in a live-game situation, so mistakes should be made, but good teams overcome those mistakes and win games over lesser competition, even if they are on the road in a hostile environment. This is no disrespect to the Bobcats, who Sports Illustrated and a number of other publications predict to win the MAC in 2009, but this is a team that finished 4-8 a year ago. If this game isn't a win, it will be a long, long season for the Huskies in 2009. Prediction: WIN
9/12 - No. 21 North Carolina NOON - Connecticut opens their home schedule with a ranked opponent for the first time at Rentschler Field when the Tar Heels come to town. The fans should be ready to go from the get-go as opening day is always a special one in East Hartford, especially when they are anxious to see a passing game for the first time in five seasons. This will be a close one, I would put in the toss-up category, but the Tar Heels will be hard pressed to replace a group of receivers that are playing on Sunday's now. Prediction: WIN
9/19 - @ Baylor 5PM - One name, Robert Griffin III. Contain Griffin and the Huskies will win. Let him do some of the things he did at Rentschler last year and it will be another shootout, however, this time no one except those that are able to travel to Waco, TX, will be able to see it. As of right now, not one television station has picked up this highly anticipated rematch. I don't think the Huskies will shut Griffin down completely in another toss-up, but once again, they do enough to win. Prediction: WIN
9/26 - Rhode Island - NOON - Ranked in week 4, the annual 1-AA game will be a cakewalk in 2009. Expect at least a four touchdown margin, especially at this point in the season, when things should be clicking on all cylinders. Things may be kept close to the vest in this one as Pittsburgh awaits in week 5 to get Big East play underway. Prediction: WIN
10/10 - @ Pittsburgh TBA - Big East play begins against the conference favorites in the Steel City. LeSean McCoy and Larod Stepehns-Howling are both gone at RB, but the Panthers return a bunch at every other position. In what should be a hostile environment, the Huskies drop their first game of the year in a close one. Prediction: LOSS
10/17 - Louisville NOON - You know your program has gone downhill quickly when three years removed from an Orange Bowl win, you are getting scheduled as a homecoming opponent. The Cardinals are expected by many, including their fans to finish 7th or dead last in the Big East. RB Victor Anderson is a talented back, but will not be enough to take out Connecticut. Prediction: WIN
10/24 - @ West Virginia TBA - Take away Pat White from last year's game and the Huskies win at Rentschler Field. Finally, White is playing in the NFL and this is the opportunity for UConn to get a win against the perennial conference favorites. This one is taking place in Morgantown, however, a tough tough place to play for anyone. If it was at home again, maybe, but until the Huskies win in West Virginia, I wouldn't bet on it. Prediction: LOSS
10/31 - Rutgers TBA - Revenge will be on the minds of Robbie Frey and company in what should be a raucous environment during, hopefully, Halloween NIGHT. This annual rivalry game has produced some memorable match-ups in recent years, with Rutgers winning three of the last four meetings. UConn will return the favor in 2009. Prediction: WIN
11/7 - @ Cincinnati TBA - Nippert Stadium is another place the Huskies have yet to win at in their short history in the Big East. The Bearcats will be looking to avenge their only loss in conference play a year ago. If the game was played tomorrow, Connecticut would win based on Cincinnati replacing almost their entire defense. If their defense comes together it could be another good year for Tony Pike, Mardy Gilyard and the rest of the Bearcats. Another toss-up, but I will lean with the Huskies in this one. Prediction: WIN
11/21 - @ Notre Dame 2:30PM - The game that is circled on QB Zach Frazer and all Huskies fans' schedules. I fully expect the Irish to be a top ten team at this point in the season, so it will not be an easy task to go into South Bend with BCS implications on the line for both teams. The Irish return all 11 players on an offense that will be tough for anyone to stop. Closer than the experts think, but I'll still go with Notre Dame. Prediction: LOSS
11/28 - Syracuse NOON - Expect Orange quarterback Greg Paulus to get treated like he was still a point guard with Duke when he comes into UConn territory. First year coach Greg Marrone shows improvement with Syracuse, but not enough in year one. Prediction: WIN
12/5 - South Florida TBA - The season finale with bowl implications and possibly a Big East title on the line. USF does not play well in cold weather or in Connecticut, losing their only two trips to Rentschler Field in the past. The same trend continues as the Huskies upset a talented Bulls team that does not implode in the second half of Big East play as has become the norm. Prediction: WIN
That leaves the Huskies at 9-3, 5-2 Big East, with a possible share of the conference title. West Virginia and Pittsburgh could easily be wins and Cincinnati, Rutgers and South Florida could go the other way as well. All games are winnable, but some of the inexperience at key positions shows in 2009. A solid bowl game is in the plans as either Charlotte (Meineke Car Care) or Jacksonville (Gator) come calling.