Fiesta Bowl Preview: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Saturday, January 1 2011
Time: 8:30PM ET

Why Watch: Because it’s Bob Stoops and Oklahoma – anything could happen. This is definitely the biggest mismatch of the five BCS bowl games, but Stoops has a five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games, which includes the Sooners’ shocking loss to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Huskies are also sixth in the nation in kickoff returns and Oklahoma has allowed three kickoff returns for touchdowns this season, including one in each of their losses. UCONN running back Jordan Todman finished second in the nation in rushing, averaging 143 yards per game. Considering Oklahoma allowed 151 rushing yards per contest in the regular season, maybe the Huskies can play keep away from Landry Jones and the Sooner offense. Just when everyone thinks a blowout is inevitable, the opposite happens so don’t give up on this one.

Game Facts: This will be the Huskies’ fourth-straight bowl appearance under head coach Randy Edsall. They pulled off an upset against South Carolina in last season’s Bowl in which they held the Gamecocks to only a touchdown in a 20-7 win. That victory improved UCONN’s all-time bowl record to 3-1. The Sooners are 25-17-1 all-time in bowls, but have lost in their last three appearances in the Fiesta Bowl. They’re also 5-6 overall in bowls under Stoops, who has his team playing in a BCS Bowl for the eighth time in 12 seasons.

Key Player: Zach Frazer, Connecticut
If Connecticut has any chance at pulling off an upset, Frazer better play at another level. None of this “playing within himself” or “not making mistakes” nonsense – he’s going to have to play the best game of his life. Oklahoma is going to stack the box to take away Jordan Todman, which is exactly what a defense should do against a starting quarterback who has a 102.1 rating and has thrown for only five touchdowns all season. He needs to prove that Oklahoma even needs to use defensive backs in this game. Otherwise, we’re in for the snoozer that we all expect.

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BCS Bowl Forecast lays out its first BCS bowl forecast of the year.

Texas LonghornsBCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: January 8, Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Matchup: Texas vs. Penn State (Odds: Texas 70%, Penn State 80%)
Outlook: The No. 1-ranked Longhorns will have their toughest remaining game this week at Texas Tech. A victory should send Texas smooth sailing into Key Biscayne. Penn State has an even easier slate, but it still needs Alabama to lose one game.

ROSE BOWL: January 1, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Matchup: USC vs. Ohio State (Odds: USC 90%, Ohio State 50%)
Outlook: The Tournament of Roses red coats don’t want this rematch – it would be the third time these two teams meet in 12 months – but it will have to really think outside of the box to avoid it. If Penn State somehow doesn’t make it to the BCS title game, fine. If USC somehow doesn’t win the Pac-10 outright, fine. But would the Rose Bowl dare to invite an SEC team to finally matchup with the Trojans in a bowl game? That would be nice, but that would also risk ticking off the Big Ten. Just remember, these guys invited Illinois last year. The track record isn’t good.

FIESTA BOWL: January 5, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Matchup: Alabama vs. Utah (Odds: Alabama 20%, Utah 60%)
Outlook: Say what? You ask. Well, this is going on the assumption that Oklahoma would be the obvious second choice from the Big 12 and the Fiesta Bowl doesn’t want a third consecutive appearance by the Sooners. The quandary here is that although the Fiesta would get the first pick if it loses Texas to the BCS title game, it pretty much has no way of avoid taking a non-BCS automatic qualifier, be it Utah, TCU, Boise State or even Tulsa.

SUGAR BOWL: January, 2, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Matchup: Florida vs. Oklahoma (Odds: Florida 40%, Oklahoma 50%)
Outlook: If the Fiesta does pass on Oklahoma, then the Sooners land here to play the SEC champion. If Oklahoma is gone, then the Sugar will be forced to take the Big East champion, leaving the second SEC team for the Orange Bowl. If the SEC champion somehow ends up in the BCS title game, then the Sugar will take the Big 12’s second team.

Florida-Oklahoma would be awesome. And even though the Trojans blew them out earlier this season, I’d be interested in an OSU-USC rematch with Terrelle Pryor playing the entire game under center for the Buckeyes.

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