Gameday forecast for UConnBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It could not have been comforting for USC fans last month when, while sizing up the Gamecocks’ Papajohns.com Bowl opponent, Steve Spurrier compared UConn to … Iowa.
Maybe Spurrier was trying to get his team’s attention at the start of bowl practice, trying to make sure the Gamecocks did not have a repeat of their lackluster Outback Bowl no-showing a year ago – a 31-10 loss to those aforementioned Hawkeyes.
More likely, Spurrier saw the Huskies’ zone coverages in the secondary and their smash-mouth approach on offense and was reminded of Iowa, a team whose preparation so impressed Spurrier that he adopted the Hawkeyes’ pregame stretching and pregame routines this season.
It’s that smash-mouth part that should be most worrisome to Gamecock fans at Legion Field (or those watching at home). The last team that USC faced that relied on a power running game was not Iowa – but Alabama.
And 246 yards later, Mark Ingram was on his way to New York to pick up the Heisman.
Big difference, though – UConn is not in the same league as Alabama. Or Iowa.
That’s no slight on the Huskies, who have shown incredible resolve this year, persevering through the fatal stabbing of cornerback Jasper Howard and a series of excruciating losses (five by a total of 15 points) to make their fourth bowl game since the school went DI in 2002.
And while there’s no doubt UConn has a rushing attack that compares favorably to Iowa’s, the Huskies’ pass defense looks like those found in Conference USA.
UConn gave up 353 yards and four touchdowns in a 29-27 win against South Florida in a game played in light but steady snow in Connecticut. The weather hasn’t been great this week in B’ham, but there’s no snow in Saturday’s forecast.
Bottom line: Stephen Garcia erases the memory of last year’s Outback meltdown and has a big passing game. UConn tailbacks Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman get their yards, but the USC defense gets the key stops.
And the Gamecocks get their second bowl trophy under Spurrier.
USC 34, UConn 24