Connecticut and South Florida are both searching for their first conference victory, and one of these teams will climb out of the Big East basement this Saturday.
Both teams are in the midst of losing streaks and will be desperate for a victory. The Bulls are in an especially dire situation after six consecutive defeats.
The Huskies have only lost their last three, but the team’s offense has been abysmal recently and has put up just 27 combined points in those contests.
The losses will stop for one of these teams this weekend, and here is everything you need to know about the matchup.
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
When: Saturday, November 3, 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: South Florida, -8.5 (according to Sports Book)
Connecticut Injury Report (via USA Today)
Sio Moore—senior linebacker is questionable with a neck injury.
Michael Osiecki—sophomore fullback is questionable with a concussion
Jesse Joseph—senior defensive end is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.
Ted Jennings—senior defensive end is out for the season with a knee injury.
Sean McQuillan—freshman tight end is out for the season with an ankle injury.
South Florida Injury Report (via USA Today)
Derrick Hopkins—junior wide receiver is questionable with a leg injury.
Willie Davis—freshman running back is questionable with an ankle injury.
Lindsey Lamar—senior running back is out for the season with a broken collarbone (via Tampa Bay Times).
Mark Popek—senior tackle is out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Chris Dunkley—sophomore wide receiver is out indefinitely after an arrest and suspension.
Sterling Griffin—junior wide receiver is out for the season with a knee injury.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
Teams that go on multiple game losing streaks rarely factor into polls and rankings. These two teams are no exception.
There may be a time when one of these programs is competing for a spot in the BCS standings, but it will not be in this season.
What They’re Saying
The Hartford Courant notes that whatever happens for the Huskies in this game, a much larger storyline will persist. This will be the case for every team in the Northeast this week.
Coming off a bye week, the UConn football team was ready to begin practice and preparation Monday in Storrs.
Instead, the Burton Family Football Complex was closed as UConn cancelled classes Monday because of Hurricane Sandy. That meant no practice, no meetings and no film study for the team.
Joey Johnston of TBO.com notes that a difficult season got even tougher last week against Syracuse.
Holtz's biggest adjustment this week will be playing without senior running back Lindsey Lamar, USF's leading rusher, who suffered a likely season-ending clavicle injury. That's more bad news for the Bulls (2-6, 0-4 Big East Conference), who carry a program-record six-game losing streak into Saturday night's home game against Connecticut.
Connecticut Player to Watch: Yawin Smallwood, Linebacker
Connecticut’s offense has been terrible this season, and the Huskies rely heavily on their defense. If the team is able to pull off a victory this week, Yawin Smallwood will lead the effort.
The sophomore has 85 total tackles this season. He also has 13 tackles for a loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles. He has been a dominant force on defense and will need to continue playing well in order to give his team a chance to break its losing streak.
South Florida Player to Watch: B.J. Daniels, Quarterback
The Bulls will need to find a way to crack the Connecticut defense, and the primary responsibility for accomplishing that will fall to B.J. Daniels.
The senior QB will have added pressure on him this week after Lindsey Lamar’s injury. Daniels will need to step up his production this week to get USF back on track.
Key Matchup: Chandler Whitmer vs. Bulls Secondary
The Huskies' defense is capable of turning in an impressive performance this weekend, but the offense will also need to chip in for UConn to win on the road. For that to happen, sophomore quarterback Chandler Whitmer will need to make plays without committing crucial errors.
That is something he has struggled with, passing for seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. If he can have one of his better games, the Huskies stand an excellent chance to win.
Key Storyline: Big East Bottom-Dwellers
One of these teams will no longer be winless against conference opponents after this week. The team that loses faces the possibility of spending the rest of the season on the bottom of the Big East standings.
Both teams are desperate, and this will be reflected on the field. Expect furious effort from both sides in this contest.
Prediction: South Florida 21, Connecticut 17
Both teams have their backs against the wall, but USF’s home-field advantage will be the deciding factor in a close game.