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USF Bulls Pose Huge Challenge for UConn Huskies

(Photo via

(Photo via

Coach Bob Diaco’s UConn football team was in must win territory last week against Cincinnati and they came through it in flying colors.

UConn (3-3 overall, 1-2 AAC) used a punishing ground attack and stout defensive effort on their way to a very satisfying 20-9 win over Cincinnati (3-3, 0-3) at Rentschler Field.

It was the first conference win for UConn.

Tommy Tuberville’s Bearcats have yet to secure an AAC win.

In the process the Huskies snapped the Bearcats five-game series winning streak.

Diaco’s squad put to bed a two-game losing streak, which included a 42-14 thumping at the hands of the Houston Cougars.

Arkeel Newsome ran for 116 yards and Bryant Shirreffs threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Huskies.

The Huskies showed why they have one of the nation’s best run defenses limiting Cincinnati to just two yards on the ground.

Newsome had a 67-yard run in the third quarter, the Huskies longest play from scrimmage this year, which set up a 30-yard Bobby Puyol field goal which gave the Huskies a 17-9 lead. Wide receiver Noel Thomas caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs. Thomas had nine catches on the day for 108 yards.

As encouraging as the Cincinnati win is for UConn this week’s contest at South Florida (5-1, 2-0 AAC) will present a monster challenge for Diaco’s defense.

In addition to Houston, USF will be the most-balanced, explosive, and consistent team that the Huskies will face this season.

Willie Taggart’s Bulls, with the exception of their sole loss to Florida State (55-35), are blowing out the opposition.

The Bulls are averaging 44.5 ppg every time they take the field.

Diaco’s defense will have to contend with USF’s dynamic duo of quarterback Quentin Flowers and running back Marlon Mack. Mack recently became South Florida’s career rushing leader surpassing the current record-holder, Andre Hall.

Meanwhile, the Bulls defense is aggressive and opportunistic – they are one of the nation’s best in creating turnovers.

UConn, which doesn’t have an explosive passing game, has to find a way to control the line of scrimmage, keep the score low, and take the game deep into the fourth quarter if they expect to compete with the Bulls.

It is imperative for the Huskies offensive line to open some holes for Newsome in order to keep the chains moving and the clock running.

The kickoff at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium is scheduled for 7 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 the CBS Sports Network.

Game Notes

Newsome carried the ball 14 times in the win over Cincinnati – in just three quarters. He was held out of the first quarter for disciplinary reasons, as he was late for a meeting on Friday.

UConn’s sure-footed kicker, Bobby Puyol, missed a 52-yard field goal late in the first quarter, leaving the Huskies without a first-quarter point this season.

UConn has mastered the art of the slow start, scoring a meager 45 points in the first half this season.

UConn punter Justin Wain has been named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Award presented by the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame for the best student-athlete on and off the football field.

UConn will need to go 3-3 to gain bowl-eligibility.

Next up for the Huskies is UCF on Oct. 22 in Hartford with a noon kickoff.

UCF is 3-2 (1-0 AAC) heading into this week’s contest with the 3-3 (1-1 AAC) Temple Owls.


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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