Breaking Down UConn’s 2016 Schedule

0
31897

The American Athletic Conference of American Athletics released the 2016  schedules of all of its members recently, so what better time than to start wildly speculating about UConn’s inevitable success for the future? All across the vast stretches of AAC country, teams and their fanbases are getting excited about the chance to see who will get the honor of losing to our Huskies in the championship game. With one of the best home slates PAWS ARF has seen in years, the re-ignition of several OG Big East rivalries, and a ConFLiCT trophy to win, its hard to know what to expect from these 2016 Huskies. We here at In Bob We Trust are ready to break down the schedule game by game to give you a good idea of what to expect.

Note: all records are kept since UConn’s first FBS season in 2000

9/1 vs. Maine Blackbears

2015 Record: 3-8

Record vs. Maine: 0-0

Do we even need to talk about these guys? I mean they lost to future UConn victims BC and Tulane by a combined 52 points. But I suppose after the Towson fiasco of 2013 we probably shouldn’t be so cocky.

These Blackbears return from a 3-8 season that saw wins over Rhode Island, Ualbany, and SUNY Stony Brook. Not exactly name brand wins, but we all cant be lucky enough to play in the historic, prestigious American Athletic Conference. This season opener should be a much easier opponent to kick off the season than last years Villanova squad, so its not really a match-up we should be worried about.

Prediction: Uconn 31 Maine 3

Record: 1-0

9/10 at Navy Midshipmen

2015 Record: 11-2 (7-1 AAC)

Record vs. Navy: 1-2

After a 2015 campaign featuring only two losses to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Houston Cougars, the Midshipmen return a weakened squad after losing senior RB Chris Swain and all star QB Keenan Reynolds. Ending their season on a high note with a victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers in the 2015 Military Bowl, the Midshipmen are ready to keep that winning tradition going with an early season game against the Huskies in Annapolis. As we saw last season in a 28-18 loss at PAWS ARF Navy’s option offense can be difficult to stop, but with the loss of their two leading rushers, UConn fares a better chance on defense this season.

Prediction: UConn 24 Navy 17

Record: 2-0

9/17 vs. Virginia Cavaliers

2015 Record: 4-8 (3-5 ACC)

Record vs. Virginia: 1-1

After a less than successful 2015 campaign, the Virginia Cavaliers fired then Head Coach Mike London and replaced him with former BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. Other than having a head coach with one of the greatest names in football history, (its no Bob Diaco but its still pretty great) this Cavaliers team doesn’t have much going for them. As we saw in Diacos first season at 2-10, first season coaches that inherit messes don’t usually perform too well, so this would be a great opportunity for UConn to steal a win against a power 5 opponent. This would be a solid resume boost for UConn when it goes up against other top teams vying for a spot in the CFP. Also working in the Huskies favor, is the fact that this game will be played at PAWS ARF in front what will (hopefully) be a rowdy, sold out stadium.

Unfortunately for Bronco, he cant out play a well dressed Bob Diaco on his home turf. The Cavs add another one to the loss column as the Huskies roll through game three.

Prediction: UConn 21 Virginia 10

Record: 3-0

9/24 vs. Syracuse Orange

2015 Record: 4-8 (2-6 ACC)

Record vs. Syracuse: 6-3

UConn kicks off the first of its games against former Big East rivals when they play the epitome of evil in the Syracuse Orange. Not only are the Orange irrelevant in March, they’re pretty much irrelevant in the fall too. Last season they demonstrated to the ACC yet again that they are unable to compete in a self-proclaimed “basketball conference”. Even with this terrible record, they were able to finish third from last in their pitiful division beating out 2 even more pathetic conference foes. We’re looking at you Boston College, but you’ll get yours later in this column.

After firing head coach Scott Shafer in November of 2016 Syracuse made what will hopefully turn out to be a terrible decision in the hiring of Dino Babers. After leading incredibly successful offenses at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green, Babers looks to continue this offensive success at the Carrier Dome. Much like Mendenhall at Virginia however, Babers will most likely need to wait until he has recruited guys that fit into his system before the Orange will be able to put up big numbers.

Prediction: UConn 18 Syracuse 7

Record: 4-0

9/29 at Houston Cougars

2015 Record: 13-1 (7-1 AAC)

Record vs. Houston: 1-0

UConn hits the road for its last game of September and heads south for one of this seasons marquee match ups against defending Peach Bowl champions Houston coming off an almost undefeated season. Keyword in that last sentence is almost, as the Huskies played spoiler last year single-handedly keeping the Cougars out of CFP contention. This win locked up the Huskies first bowl bid since the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and was worthy of the first field storming UConn has had in years. The Cougars will surely be looking for a bit of payback in front of their home crowd when the Huskies come to town.

Head coach Tom Herman has a significant portion of the offense returning to him this fall including breakout QB Greg Ward Jr, as well as several key transfers looking to make an impact in several of the skill positions. The defense however is another story. After losing most key players from last season including the teams leaders in tackles and interceptions, the new recruits will need to step up right out of the gate if this team wants to complete that undefeated season they fell just short of in 2015.

They won’t however as UConn, unsurprisingly takes this one too. The Huskies then head home to conquer some demons they’ve been strugling with for years.

Prediction: UConn 13 Houston 10

Record: 5-0

10/8 vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

2015 Record: 7-6 (4-4 AAC)

Record vs. Cincinnati: 2-10

Look at that record, 2-10, woof. The Huskies return home to take on a Bearcats team that they haven’t beaten since the 2010 season.

Coming off 42-7 thrashing at the hands of the San Diego State Aztecs in last years Hawaii Bowl, the 2015 Cincinnati season was a major disappointment after falling to a final record of 7-6. The major question on offense is who the starting Quarterback will be after Gunner Kiel missed the bowl game for undisclosed personal reasons.  Kiel held the starting QB position for the majority of the past two years but Head Coach Tommy Tuberville informed the media that Kiel had to “earn his job back” after the Senior re-joined the team in January.

UConn has struggled to dispatch the Bearcats over the past 6 years as Cincinnati was able to out score the Huskies 188-73 over that span, and yes, it hurt just to type that. This year is the season UConn is able to defeat its inner demons however, and will end up taking this one in what will surely be a high scoring showdown.

Prediction: UConn 42 Cincinnati 31

Record: 6-0

10/15 at USF Bulls

2015 Record: 8-5 (6-2 AAC)

Record vs. USF: 5-8

The UConn Huskies next head down to Tampa to take on another opponent that they inexplicably have had trouble with in the past, even during the programs down years. The Huskies are currently on a four game losing streak dating back to 2012.

This seasons Bulls are poised to repeat and improve on last seasons success after finishing 8-5 and falling just short of an AAC East title. Star Running back Marlon Mack and Quarterback Quinton Flowers return to what was one of the AAC’s hotest offenses last season and is shaping up to be even better this season. The defense returns a majority of its players but takes on a new defensive coordinator after Tom Allen left for the same position in Indiana last season. If this teams defense can grow from the instruction of new DC Raymond Woodie, former Linebackers Coach, USF will be a force possibly capable of an AAC title.

All that being said, the bend but don’t break tactics of the UConn defense will keep Flowers and Mack just short of the goal line as the Huskies pile up the wins mid season.

Prediction: UConn 24 USF 17

Record: 7-0

10/22 vs. UCF Knights (ConFLiCT)

2015 Record: 0-12 (0-8 AAC)

Record vs. UCF: 2-1

In what will surely be one of the season’s most anticipated match ups, UConn fans will finally be able to see a Civil ConFLiCT game on their home turf. PAWS ARF is gonna be lit for a showdown between two AAC East titans fighting to put their name atop another chapter of this storied rivalry.

In all seriousness, the ConFliCT isn’t a rivalry with a lot of history and UConn may have been the butt of a lot of jokes because of it, but we here at IBWT believe that this move made by HCBD was sneaky genius. Last season, the first official ConFLiCT game, was talked about all season long by various media outlets and even made it onto ESPN’s College Gameday the week of the game. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity and a fledgling program like UConn will take all the publicity it can get.

After retiring from coaching last season, George O’leary has handed the program over to former Oregon OC Scott Frost. Though Frost does seem to be a great fit for a UCF offense that struggled through 2015, this definitely will not be an instant turnaround. The spread, no huddle offense that Frost brings with him is designed to wear down opponents defense by forcing quick, successive plays, but this should not be a problem for the UConn defense who proved to be able to stand up to marathon games after spending much more time on the field than the offense did last season.

Uconn wins this one as they prepare to head down to North Carolina.

Prediction: UConn 34 UCF 24

Record: 8-0

10/29 at East Carolina Pirates

2015 Record: 5-7 (3-5 AAC)

Record vs. East Carolina: 1-1

Adding to the list of UConn opponents with first year coaches, East Carolina fired head coach Ruffin McNeil last season after he lead the Pirates to three straight bowl games from 2012-2014. First year coach Scottie Montgomery has a tall task ahead of him in saving the Pirates from the brink of becoming AAC basement dwellers for the foreseeable future.

For the offense, Montgomery has gone on record as saying he wants “a better balance between running and passing” which could possibly lead to a turnaround from last years 5-7 record. With a lot of skilled receivers returning for 2016, airing it out might be Montgomery’s best option to put points on the board. The defense returns most of last years starters which was their essentially the only strong suit from the 2015 squad. If Montgomery can fix the offense, the Pirates could finish in the top 3 of the AAC East.

Prediction: UConn 28 ECU 17

Record: 9-0

11/4 vs. Temple Owls

2015 Record: 10-4 (7-1 AAC)

Record vs. Temple: 4-6

After taking a beating last year at the Linc in Philadelphia, the Huskies are looking for some revenge in front of the dog pound. With the Temple Owls coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history, Head Coach Matt Rhule is poised to repeat success and is the current favorite to win the AAC East.

P.J. Walker will be returning for his fourth year under center with an even more experienced O-Line protecting him which will cause trouble for opposing AAC defenses all season. On defense Temple suffers a big loss from All-American Linebacker Tyler Matakevich entering the NFL draft, but has three very capable replacements waiting in the wings.

This Temple team should be similar to last year and should rack up the wins throughout the season, unfortunately they’ll take an L when they come to PAWS ARF as the Huskies are rolling through November.

Prediction: UConn 24 Temple 14

Record 10-0

11/19 at Boston College Eagles

2015 Record: 3-9 (0-8 ACC)

Record vs. Boston College: 0-4

In what has become one of the most anticipated match ups in recent memory, the Huskies are headed to Boston to take on one of the least successful schools in the country in terms of the two major sports. Boston College had all of ZERO conference wins in 2015. No, that was not typo, Boston College is so inept at Football and Basketball, that they literally were unable to beat ANYONE at ANYTHING. Even with this fact, there are still delusional BC fans all over every message board and fan site on the internet that truly believe their Eagles have a chance of winning this game.

What is most amazing about this Boston College team is the fact that in 2015 they had the number one defense in the nation in yards allowed per game. When you hold this title and finish 3-9 without a win in conference, your offense is an absolute dumpster fire, much like your fan base(ZING). If their QB transfer from UK pans out for them, the Eagles will go from being completely pathetic to just plain bad.

The first actual rivalry game UConn plays on rivalry weekend in quite some time shouldn’t be too much of a problem and handing a loss to the school that blocked UConn’s bid to the ACC will be a very sweet prize.

Prediction: UConn 21 BC 6

Record: 11-0

11/26 vs. Tulane Green Wave

2015 Record: 3-9 (1-7 AAC)

Record vs. Tulane: 1-1

For the past two seasons Uconn-Tulane has been one of the most boring games played all season long in any conference. With scores of 12-3 and 7-3 this is an understandable label. This game should be different however as UConn will be fighting to complete their undefeated season and for a berth in the AAC title game.

Continuing with a similar theme of 2016 opponents, Tulane is led by first year coach Willie Fritz who has accepted the job after leading Georgia Southern for the past two seasons. The offense will be very run oriented due to the lack of experience and skill. The defense returns seven starters, but that doesn’t mean much from a team whose opponents averaged over 36 points per game last season.

It may be a boring 60 minutes, but UConn being on the upswing should be able to handle Tulane rather handily.

Prediction: UConn 42 Tulane 13

Record: 12-0

Well would you look at that. The website that prides themselves on being “the home of 15-0” has predicted an undefeated season. Obviously take these predictions with a grain of salt, but I see no reason UConn CAN’T win every game on the schedule. Even if they don’t reach the undefeated season we are all hoping for, this UConn football team is very much improved from last season and should be a lot of fun to watch.