Virginia (1-1) at Connecticut (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 13th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rentschler Field (40,000) -- East Hartford, Connecticut. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Virginia 1-1, UConn 1-0. Away Record: Virginia 0-0, UConn 1-0. Neutral Record: Virginia 0-0, UConn 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Virginia leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Connecticut Huskies enter play Saturday in search of a 3-0 start, but standing in their way are the Virginia Cavaliers of the ACC.
After getting blown out by top-ranked USC (52-7) on opening weekend, Virginia grinded out a 16-0 win over Richmond last weekend. This tilt marks the first road test of the season for the Cavaliers, who will open up ACC play at Duke next Saturday. It will be Virginia�s only non-conference road game this season.
UConn slipped by Temple in overtime last weekend, 12-9. The Huskies are aiming for a 10th straight home victory. They'll host Baylor next Friday, before opening up Big East play at Louisville the following Friday.
Virginia's 17-16 win over UConn last year was the only prior meeting between these two teams.
For the most part, Virginia�s offense struggled against the Richmond Spiders, who entered the game ranked No. 3 in the FCS. The Cavaliers' running attack was held to 91 yards and an average of 2.4 ypc. Running back Mikell Simpson accounted for 36 of those yards, though he needed 23 carries to reach that total. The passing game wasn't much better. Peter Lalich went 21-of-39 for 204 yards and two INTs. He did however, establish a good rhythm with Kevin Ogletree, who caught eight passes for 103 yards. The Cavaliers need desperately to establish some kind of threat on offense. They are averaging just 61.5 rushing yards in two games, while Lalich has an efficiency rating of just 85.35.
If there is one positive the Cavaliers can take into Week 3, it's the play of their defense. UVA was downright stubborn against the run, allowing a mere 19 yards on 27 attempts (0.7 ypc). The defense also made things tough for Spiders quarterback Eric Ward, who went just 16-of-33 for 175 yards and two interceptions. He was also sacked six times. It was a big step forward for a UVA defense that allowed USC quarterback Mark Sanchez to throw for 338 yards and three TDs on a bum knee in the opener. But given the current status of the offense, this unit will need to continue making strides from week to week.
If it weren't for junior tailback Donald Brown, UConn almost certainly wouldn't be shooting for 3-0 this weekend. Against Temple, Brown ran for a career-high 214 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown on UConn�s first possession of overtime. Prior to that touchdown, the game's only points had come by way of field goals. Entering the game, the Huskies felt as though they'd be able to move the ball on the ground. And they did just that, churning out 293 yards for an average of 5.3 ypc. Problem is, quarterback Tyler Lorenzen has proven to be a more efficient runner than passer. In two games, he ranks second on the team with 97 rushing yards (5.4 ypc), while averaging only 135 passing yards per game, with four INTs and zero TDs. Lorenzen is completing just 51 percent of his passes.
Defensively, UConn did a lot of things well against Temple. Time and again, the Huskies came up big on third downs. Temple converted only 2-of-15 third downs, and finished the game with just 10 first downs. The Huskies did a good job pressuring Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele, coming away with two interceptions and a pair of sacks. They notched seven sacks in the season- opener against Hofstra. Scott Lutrus led the way with 10.5 tackles versus Temple.
Neither offense is particularly dynamic. The biggest key to this game may very well be the Huskies' ability to contain Donald Brown out of the backfield. Even then, Lorenzen is going to have to make some plays in the passing game at some point. Playing at home, UConn should be able to skate by with a victory, though it may not be pretty.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 20, Virginia 16
09/10 10:30:34 ET