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Analyzing the opponents: USF and UConn

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With Camp Higher Ground only two weeks away and the opener against Pitt approaching, the time is now to take a closer look at the teams that will be gracing the 2012 UC football schedule. 

We'll analyze their returning players and the narrative following the teams as they approach the year. Also, I'll rank the opponents from 1-11 and delve into the storylines for each week. Today, we conclude the series with USF and UConn.


Here are all the previous installments:

Pitt and Delaware State
Virginia Tech and Miami
Fordham and Toledo
Louisville and Syracuse
Temple and Rutgers

South Florida Bulls
Location: Nippert Stadium
Date: Friday, Nov. 23
Time: TBA
TV: ESPN/ESPN2
Offensive Starters: 8/11
Defensive Starters: 8/11
Specialists: 2/2
Last year: USF (5-7, 1-6) saw a season that started so bright spiral into one of the most disappointing in their recent history. The Bulls opened 4-0, including a Week 1 win at Notre Dame. They went on to lose all but one of their final seven games, many in heartbreaking fashion (see Collaros, Zach).
Player to watch: QB B.J. Daniels. Will Daniels ever deliver on his potential? He owns enough talent to provide hope and lofty expectations every season, but this will be his final year to translate those into results. The talent surrounds him, so no excuses exist.
Stat of note: Since joining the Big East, the Bulls have lost at least three conference games every season. They haven't enjoyed a winning conference season since 2007. While many discuss their talented Florida-laden recruiting classes, USF has never asserted itself to the elite of the Big East.
Why they're dangerous: Yes, last year's team underachieved, but will the combination of talent and a chip on the shoulder allow USF to break through with a conference title? They'll be as fast as any team on UC's schedule and Daniels gives defensive coordinators headaches.
Media storyline: Will Skip Holtz be feeling the pressure. His seat is as hot as anybody in the conference, but if another season of high expectations fall short that could mean nervous moments against UC.
Schedule Rank: 5. Different year, same story. As scary a team as there is in the league...on paper.

Connecticut Huskies

Location: East Hartford, Conn.
Date: Dec. 1
Time: TBA
TV: ABC, ESPN, ESPN2
Offensive Starters: 7/11
Defensive Starters: 9/11
Specialists: 1/2
Last year: UConn (5-7, 3-4) showed promise, but couldn't string together back-to-back wins. Defense let the Huskies down. Yet, Lyle McCombs established himself as one of top backs in the conference racking up 1,151 yards at 4.2 per carry. The building blocks were put in place for a bounceback season.
Player to watch: Johnny McEntee. Can he improve enough to take the pressure off the running game? McEntee took over the starter's job to mixed results. UConn was at their best when he wasn't asked to do too much. If he can develop into a consistent passer who isn't a liability when throwing more than 20 times a game, UConn could develop a potent attack.
Stat of note: The Huskies defense allowed an average of 36.8 points per game in their four conference losses. Yikes.
Why they're dangerous: Paul Pasqualoni enters his second year with nobody returning more starters could be a recipe for success. Such has been the trend across college football recently. Plus, a running game that can control the ball could be an even more difficult mathcup on a New England December afternoon.
Media storyline: Will this be the latest December Saturday where UC plays for a conference title? Considering the parity across the conference, it would be a shock if this game didn't hold title implications.
Schedule Rank: 7. UConn has a scary element to them, but the question of how much Pasqualoni can get out of this defense will decide their fate. 

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