We've already covered the motivation angle for both the Oklahoma Sooners and Connecticut Huskies leading up to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. Today, we look at what's going down when UConn has the ball.
Keep an eye on...
1. Physicality in the Trenches
UConn's offensive scheme doesn't really leave much to the imagination. It's a classic pro-style system that emphasizes downhill running.
This year, the Husky attack revolves around junior tailback Jordan Todman, the second-leading rusher in the nation and Big East offensive player of the year. Todman runs behind a veteran offensive line that includes first-team all-conference selections Zach Hurd at guard and Mike Ryan at tackle.
Those big uglies may offer the biggest advantage UConn has in this game. If they manhandle OU's inconsistent front four, particularly the interior, the Huskies can control the clock and keep the ball in Todman's hands.
2. Going Deep on Early Downs
Count on Oklahoma defensive coordinator to stack the box on first down to help combat UConn's brutish running attack. If UConn can't find ways to loosen up Oklahoma's defense, that's going to mean lots of obvious passing situations on second down. That's a formula for a blowout.
The Huskies' leading receivers Michael Smith and Kashif Moore are averaging 14.2 and 12.2 yards per catch, respectively, in 2010. Taking shots downfield with these two at opportune times will help keep the OU D honest.
3. Trick Plays
Randy Edsall isn't exactly known as a wild and crazy guy. What better time to show his impetuous side, though, when no one expects it?
That's what bowl games are for, right? Ask Larry Fedora.
4. Zach Frazer's Pocket Presence
Frazer isn't the caliber of quarterback that college football fans are used to seeing in BCS games. His passer rating of 102.0 falls outside the top 100 nationally. He has a 5-4 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.
He makes Jared Zabransky look like Johnny Unitas.
The Sooners are going to blitz Frazer from all angles and dare him to beat them.
It almost goes without saying, but if UConn turns the ball over mulitple times, this will get ugly.
Who Has the Edge?
Oklahoma's defense is built to kill conventional offenses like the the one UConn runs. Quarterbacks who can move typically give the Sooners trouble.
Zach Frazer that is not.
Even worse, UConn's mediocre passing game – which is being kind – doesn't look like it will present much of a threat against OU's aggressive zone blitzes and solid secondary.
If you're looking for a clear mismatch in this game, this is it.