It’s hard to believe that the Connecticut Huskies are three years removed from a BCS Bowl berth and are off to a rousing 0-7 record in 2013. The Huskies are on their second coach of the 2013 football season and in 2011 they represented the dearly departed Big East in the Fiesta Bowl. Sure, they were throttled at the hands of Oklahoma. But it’s Connecticut Football. It was a massive step.

Since then, things have changed in a large way. Perhaps one of the brightest parts of the past three seasons for Uconn was shocking Louisville at home last season; at the time the Cardinals the 19th best team in the Country. On Friday when the Cardinals travel to Hartford, a repeat upset bid remains highly unlikely. Here’s three things to watch:

QUICK START

Louisville’s offense – while  it’s been stifled at times- hasn’t had any problems quickly scoring on opponents. They’ve outscored opponents by an astronomical amount in the 1st half – 175-20. It’s been the second halves where things have been a bit closer, a half in which the Cardinals are outscoring opponents 140-65. In addition the Cardinals have scored on each of their opening drives except against Kentucky.

With Uconn, things have been a bit different.

The last time this pair met, from a Cardinal standpoint, we saw a dreadful performance. It was all bad things.

A lifeless Cardinal team never really got anything resembling offense going until the fourth quarter. Upsets occur the longer a heavy favorite allows a team to have faith that they can pull an upset. Louisville did that in 2012. The Cards went through 45 minutes of game time without a single point.

Teddy Bridgewater, Devante Parker, and the team that beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl did this. I still can’t precisely describe how it happened. Basic explanations don’t work and I probably wouldn’t believed it occurred without video proof. No matter though. What does matter is Louisville must avoid this on Friday.

LOUISVILLE RUSHING ATTACK SHOULD BE EXCITED

Connecticut has one of the worst rush defenses in the American Conference, it’s in the bottom half of Division I College Football and it’s even worse when you look solely at BCS schools. We’ve seen what Dominique Brown has been capable of doing this year, but perhaps this is the game in which another running back out of Micheal Dyer and Senorise Perry shines.

On average, the Husky defense has given up a 172 yards. That’s the 2nd worst in the AAC, narrowly edging out Temple for the dubious distinction; whom the Cards ran every way but south against.

The rushing totals Connecticut have given up go as follows:

201 yards to Towson (TOWSON!)

224 yards to Maryland

192 yards to Michigan

153 yards to Buffalo

122 yards to South Florida

137 yards to Cincinnati

176 yards to Central Florida

Most of those are fairly large numbers. It does show that the rushing defense has improved, but it also shows that each ranked opponent Uconn has faced has rushed for 170+ yards.

I’m inclined to think that Senorise Perry and Michael Dyer have simply been too quiet for the talent they boast. After all, before tearing has ACL, Perry rushed for a team-leading 705 yards and still had 3 1/2 games remaining of the 2012 schedule. And we are all aware of the accolades that former Auburn RB Michael Dyer claims.

Something has got to give. One of these guys is bound to bust out at some point. Friday night serves as a perfect opportunity for them to do so. If all goes as planned, they will surely get their share of carries as Louisville tries to milk the clock, but maybe it won’t…

CLOSER THAN USUAL

Rarely do things go as planned when these two meet each other on the football field. No matter the talent superiority that one team has over the other, these teams typically have delivered plenty of surprises. Last year – and well you obviously no the terrible story – served as a perfect example.

Louisville clearly had more talent than the Huskies but that didn’t matter to Uconn QB Johnney McEntee who only went 2/7 replacing an injured Chandler Whitmer, but still delivered one critical touchdown strike.

Whether they’ve been punts returned for touchdown resulting from faux fair catches, Teddy Bridgewater breaking a bone in his wrist, or a guy with the last name McEntee beating a Top 10 team ; they’ve happened. Generally when these two have served up surprises, it’s been the Huskies who were victors.  Charlie Strong wants no surprises Friday on the primetime ESPN stage.

Vegas clearly didn’t know or didn’t care about the past meetings between these pair, when they gave the Cardinals a 27.5 point advantage. If Louisville does cover that spread, it will certainly buck a trend. The last four meetings between these schools, the spread has been covered a whooping zero times by the favorite.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves though, Uconn is bad — really bad. A usually candid Roy Philon wouldn’t shy away from what he’d seen on film of them:

“I mean, yeah, I see them miss blocks and stuff,” He noted. “But we still have to respect them.”

That’s a very polite way of saying that he doesn’t suspect much competition from the Huskies on Friday night. They are bad. Charlie Strong knows they’re bad. The players know they’re bad. Louisville needs to go to Hartford, jump on the Huskies from the start and give them no time for any ‘surprises’ to occur.

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Chris Hatfield

Residing in Louisville, KY (via Bardstown, KY). I write things about Louisville Sports. Sometimes you'll like them. Follow me @_ChrisHatfield Email me at chatfield60@gmail.com

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