Can UCONN Bounce Back?

Connecticut picked the wrong time to suffer its first defeat in the Big East.

Coming off a listless performance that saw their lead in the conference reduced to one-half game, the 25th-ranked Huskies try not to look past last-place Syracuse on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Connecticut –18.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Connecticut –18.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Connecticut (8-2, 4-1) fell 27-3 at Cincinnati last Saturday, and with West Virginia's 38-31 win over Louisville on Nov. 8, the Huskies' lead over the Mountaineers in the Big East was cut to one-half game.

Connecticut visits West Virginia on Nov. 24 in a game that could decide the winner of the conference, but it first must face Syracuse (2-8, 1-4) on Saturday.

Against the Bearcats, Connecticut allowed a season high in points and was outgained 420-204. The Huskies finished with a season-low 22 rushing yards, one week after running for 256 in a 38-19 win over Rutgers.

"It was disappointing that we had our worst effort of the season," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "But it's difficult to win when you don't win the battle at the line of scrimmage. We knew they were a physical team. We weren't flat."

The Huskies have a good chance of getting their rushing game back on track against the Orange, who allow a conference-worst 219.6 yards on the ground and have given up 26 rushing touchdowns.

Connecticut sophomores Andre Dixon and Donald Brown have combined for 1,282 rushing yards and eight scores, but they totaled only 35 yards - all by Dixon - on 14 carries against the Bearcats.

Dixon has only 70 rushing yards in the last two games after gaining a season-high 167 in a 22-15 win over then-No. 11 South Florida on Oct. 27, which moved the Huskies into the poll for the first time.

Brown carried the ball only twice against Cincinnati, a week after rushing 24 times for a season-high 154 yards and a touchdown against the Scarlet Knights.

The inconsistent performance is uncharacteristic for UConn, which uses its running game to provide a foundation for its methodical, mistake-free offensive approach.

That formula gives quarterback Tyler Lorenzen the opportunity to run a balanced and efficient offense, which has produced a conference-low 11 turnovers and averages 191.5 passing yards and 159.5 rushing yards per game.

Lorenzen, though, was forced to throw the ball a season-high 37 times against Cincinnati, and he completed 18 of them for 182 yards and an interception. Lorenzen has thrown only five picks on the season compared to 11 TDs.

Syracuse is looking to rebound from a 41-10 rout at the hands of South Florida last weekend. The Orange committed a season-high four turnovers and had eight penalties for 60 yards.

"They want to win in the worst way," coach Greg Robinson said. "They're going to work and I'm going to tell you this, (last Saturday's loss) wasn't for lack of effort. Our team is out there running around. I give our young people credit. They are competing, just not doing everything at their highest level yet."

The Orange could have starting quarterback Andrew Robinson back after he sat out the loss to the Bulls with a cracked rib. If he can't play, fellow sophomore Cameron Dantley would be given his second start after going 21-for-38 for 276 yards, a touchdown and two INTs last weekend.

The Huskies ran for 297 yards and won 26-7 on Oct. 7, 2005, in their only meeting against the Orange in Connecticut. However, they gained just 70 yards on the ground in falling 20-14 at Syracuse last Nov. 18.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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