Oklahoma are massive favorites for the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day but Al Dannity believes the Huskies can do enough to win over some admirers.
Strong start vital for Huskies Teams that lose to Temple don’t normally make it to BCS bowls, nor indeed do teams that drop their opening two conference games to Rutgers and Louisville. Connecticut however is no ordinary unranked team with an 8-4 finish. The Huskies play a solid ground game, spearheaded by Jordan Todman. The Big East Offensive Player of the Year racked up 1,574 yards this season, offsetting the Huskies’ largely ineffective passing game. With the nation’s #19 defense also at their disposal, UConn have the weapons to at least make a fight of this game.
The only way those assets will pay any dividends is if the Huskies contain Oklahoma early. The 11-2 Sooners had moments they’d like to forget in 2010 but by and large this was a year where they grew as a team over the course of the season. No-one experienced this more than quarterback Landry Jones, finishing the year with a gaudy 35 touchdown to 11 interception ratio. If Jones and the Sooners’ #4 ranked passing game gets off to a good start, Todman’s impact could be nullified early.
Sooners’ bowl jinx won’t be a hindrance It would be neglectful to preview a BCS bowl featuring Oklahoma without bringing up Bob Stoops’ less than stellar bowl record. For a man who has racked up seven conference titles at Oklahoma, Stoops has a surprisingly poor record in the post-season. Consecutive Fiesta Bowl losses in the 2006 and 2007 seasons were followed by defeat in the national title game two years ago. Overall, Stoops is 2-5 in BCS games, having started 2-0. All five of those defeats however came against teams with much better records, not to mention rosters, than UConn. In all of them the Sooners were either underdogs or viewed the game as something of a let-down. That isn’t the case this time, Oklahoma’s players are desperate to break the BCS jinx and will be determined to live up to their status as favorites.
The verdict While the Huskies have plenty of guts, they simply don’t have a pass-defense good enough to neutralize the Sooners. As -17.0 favorites with Sports Interaction, it’s hardly shocking that I think Oklahoma will win. The key question here is will they cover? I like the Sooners’ offense to come good for bettors in the second half. With DeMarco Murray looking to cap off his career in style, I like the Oklahoma running back to see more touches than usual if the Sooners’ put the game beyond doubt early. This game should offer great value in Live Betting, especially if UConn can push the line down with a strong start so keep an eye on that once the Fiesta Bowl gets under way.