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Friday Five Keys - USF vs. Connecticut

Better slow this guy down if you want to end the regular season with another win.
Better slow this guy down if you want to end the regular season with another win.

It's the last game of the regular season, and here are the keys to going out with a victory.

1. Keep Jordan Todman under control. A pretty obvious key, but our goal here is not to be cunning. Todman has run for at least 100 yards in every game he's played in this season except for the game against Louisville, where the Huskies were shut out. During UConn's four-game winning streak, he's run for a total of 640 yards and averaged exactly five yards per carry. Todman is not much of a threat to catch passes (to be honest, no one on the Huskies really is), so containing him on the ground goes a long way towards stopping the UConn offense.

Interesting fact - Todman has 261 carries and 17 catches this season and has yet to lose a fumble. This is not a jinx. This is totally a jinx.

2. Challenge the UConn secondary, if you can. I know B.J. Daniels (currently listed as questionable on the injury report) would be able to take advantage of the Huskies' big defensive vulnerability because his arm is strong enough to throw deep and beat them in coverage. Bobby Eveld is a different story, if he has to start. While he has good velocity on short passes, he can't throw it nearly as far, which could make it easier for UConn to bring extra defenders into the box to help slow down the running game.

3. Take care of the ball in every phase of the game. UConn has collected 26 turnovers in 11 games, and not just from intercepting passes. One of the biggest plays of their season so far was a recovered fumble on special teams against Pittsburgh, right after they took a 23-21 lead. Ray Graham fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Huskies recovered, and they cashed it in for another touchdown. USF struggled a bit with ball security against Miami last week, and while the special teams have been good about hanging on to the ball, this wouldn't be the week to muff a punt.

4. Don't get knocked out by the first punch. Figure UConn is going to be sky-high with a chance to go a BCS game, like they were back in 2007 when they played West Virginia. In that game, they took the opening kickoff and drove 92 yards for a touchdown. The Mountaineers responded with 24 in a row, but the Huskies scored right before halftime and only trailed 24-14 at the break. Then, of course, West Virginia unleashed the Kraken in the second half and ended up winning 66-21. I don't think USF can score 66 points in a game, so it might not be possible to completely break the Huskies' spirit. But there's no way the Bulls will have the emotional edge at the start of the game. They have to let UConn get that out of their system and then counterpunch.

5. Embrace the spoiler role. There's a game to be played and you're in it, might as well win it and wreck someone's season in the process. And let's not forget, USF does have something to play for, too, even if it's not immediately apparent. If the Bulls win and West Virginia ends up in the BCS, USF would be the only other eight-win team in the Big East. The biggest prize would be the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, because it would be the best possible opponent, and being only an hour from campus USF should be able to sell plenty of tickets to the game. (Granted Notre Dame could steal this, but with so many PAC-10 bowls open, they may choose to go west and keep the Champs in their back pocket for another year.) Or they could go to Charlotte and play Clemson, which isn't quite as compelling, but still better than going to Birmingham (a city no USF fan wants to travel to) and playing a weak Kentucky team.

Basically you want to do whatever you can to avoid playing in St. Pete, against a school that completely hates your guts, and right at the beginning of bowl season where you don't get nearly as many practices as you would if your game was later on. If the Bulls end up in the Beef's bowl, you cannot properly measure the amount of loathing the three of us would have for that game. No offense to the sponsor or to anyone else, but we'd probably just pretend like football season was over.