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Huskies and Pirates in Battle for Bowl Bid



UConn travels to East Carolina

Coach Bob Diaco’s UConn football team is in need of a win if the Huskies expect to keep their bowl hopes alive this season.
As a matter of fact East Carolina is looking to do just the same as the Huskies (3-5, 1-4 AAC) and Pirates (2-5, 0-3 AAC) meet tomorrow at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina.
The two teams are mired in the bottom of the current AAC East Division standings and a win is in the ‘must have’ column for both programs.
UConn has lost two straight and four of their last five games.
The Pirates are hoping to break a five-game losing streak.
The Huskies enter the contest with some offensive optimism coming off the 24-16 road loss to UCF.
For the first time this season UConn opened the scoring against an opponent and left the field with a 13-0 lead over UCF at the half.
That was a major step forward for an offense that has failed to jell in the first half having been outscored 38-9 in the first quarter this season.
The lack of offensive production has put the defense on their heels week-in and week-out.
Another major step to be taken this week will be getting a win on the road.
UConn has a woeful road record in Diaco’s reign (2-11) and they have yet to snatch a win in three games this season.
Diaco would like to see his squad put in a consistent effort and play four quarters of solid football in order to be successful in the Pirates den.
On the other side of the field East Carolina features a high-powered offense which is averaging 514 yards of total offense per game.
Wide receiver Zay Jones is one of the top receivers in the country with 14 receptions (NCAA leader) and 130 receiving yards per contest.
Jones and teammate Jimmy Williams will pose a huge challenge for the UConn secondary that has struggled all season long.
Philip Nelson is the Pirates signal caller who can throw with the best of them.
Last week Nelson torched the Cincinnati secondary for 283 yards.
The kickoff in Greenville, NC is scheduled for 12 p.m.
It can be heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network (WTIC – Hartford, 1080 AM) with Joe D’Ambrosio on the call with Wayne Norman providing the color commentary. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNews with Mike Couzens and Dan Hawkins in the booth.

Around the AAC

The Huskies and Pirates are 1-1 in the series with UConn winning 31-13 in East Hartford last year.
UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has completed 150 of 253 passes (59.3 percent) for 1,830 yards and seven touchdowns this year. He has been intercepted four times.
Noel Thomas leads the Huskies in receiving with 76 catches for 923 yards and three touchdowns.
Arkeel Newsome is the leading rusher with 513 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Bobby Puyol kicked three field goals against UCF, giving him 38 in his career. Puyol ranks third in school history in career field goals.
USF (6-2) and Houston (6-2) became the first two teams in the AAC to gain bowl eligibility in 2016.
Surprising Navy sits atop the AAC West Division with a 4-0 record while Temple and USF are currently tied for the top spot in the East at 3-1.
The second annual American Athletic Conference Football Championship will be played Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, at 12 p.m. and will be televised nationally on either ABC or ESPN.
The game will be played at the home field of the divisional champion with the best conference record.
Next up for the Huskies is Temple on Nov. 4 in Hartford with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Huskies renew an embattled Big East rivalry at Boston College on Nov. 19

Follow Bob for all the UConn football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob


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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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