Paul Pasqualoni's success with Donovan McNabb and Syracuse is something that still gives me nightmares, but he's gone 5-7 in each of his first two seasons at UConn; can he bring the program back to the level of the Randy Edsall regime? Let's look at their schedule:
8/29 Towson: The Tigers were 7-4 (6-2 CAA) in 2012 and are returning all five guys on the OL and Terrance West in the backfield. The most memorable thing about Towson football, though, is their brain fart on a truly "special" team play...
9/14 Maryland: Yikes, these guys were bad! They started freshman Perry Hills in place of veteran C.J. Brown, who tore his ACL before the 2012 season started. Hills threw for only 1,336 on the year (as a team, the Terps had only 1,886 passing yards). Stefon Diggs was the breakout receiver on the team with 848 yards, while rushing was almost non-existent; Brandon Ross, the team's leading rusher, had only 390 yards...71 of which came on one play. Yeesh! Maryland is hoping that freshman Jacquille Veii is the answer in the ground game. More importantly, Edsall being in his third year, and second with his coordinators, is what may make the difference.
9/21 Michigan: Rentschler is about as large as just a couple sections in Michigan Stadium, and Dave Brandon tried like mad to get this game moved to a different venue. That didn't happen, and it probably doesn't matter. Whether this game is played in Connecticut, New Jersey, or on the moon, the result will be the same. Devin Gardner is going to have one hell of a game; expect a similar result to the 2010 game in Ann Arbor.
9/28 @ Buffalo: Um, so there's a school in Buffalo, New York, and it's called the University at Buffalo. They were okay a few years ago. Now? Not so much. Let's move on.
10/12 South Florida: After taking the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to consecutive 7-5 seasons, South Florida hired Willie Taggart to take the place of the fired Skip Holtz. Given the fact that this is Taggart's first season with the Bulls, and Pasqualoni hasn't been able to accomplish a whole lot with UConn, this could be as ugly as last year. The stat line looked pretty even until the turnovers; UConn had three to USF's one. Rushing was terrible, too, as both teams combined for a total of 124 yards. 13-6 again this year anyone?
10/19 @ Cincinnati: UConn and Cincinnati are going to fight it out on the field to decide which team's player has the better name: Cincy's Leviticus Payne (move over Munchie Legaux) or UConn's Jazzmar Clax. I'm just glad that Leviticus Payne is a real person, and not some action franchise, because it would probably star Vin Diesel. As far as real football goes, it's no longer a surprise that Cincinnati is a good team, but it was surprising to see Tommy Tuberville take the reigns after Butch Jones moved on to Tennessee. Tuberville should be good enough to build on last year's 10-3 record.
10/26 @ UCF: The Knights are going to receive a gut-punch in the first half of the season when they have road games against Penn State and Louisville, and face South Carolina at home. I can't see UCF winning any of those three. However, they'll beat UConn on the way to an eight- or nine-win season.
11/8 Louisville: UConn was able to blemish Teddy Bridgewater's record last year, but needed three OTs to do it. To give UConn more credit, they did hold one of the nation's most electric QBs scoreless until the fourth quarter. Perhaps if Bridgewater can repeat his 331 yard performance, and if the Cardinals can actually find a run game, there will be a different turnout in 2013.
11/16 @ SMU: There's something wrong with you if you don't like June Jones. He was good for the NFL, but he's been even better for college football. He brought an amazing turnaround to the Hawaii football team, and has already done a similar job with the Mustangs. Zach Line rushed for over 4,000 yards in his career, which is amazing considering that Jones is a run-and-shoot coach who doesn't believe in the existence of running backs. Maybe he'll be able to get a similar performance out of 6'2" 230-lb Traylon Shead. I like underdog stories, and SMU has been an underdog ever since the death penalty, but they'll win this.
11/23 @ Temple:Temple sucks. They should have known that Al Golden was going to bolt once he brought this team some measure of respectability. Now that he's gone and Steve Addazio left after just two seasons, look for Temple to return to the depths.
11/30 Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were a respectable 9-4 last year, and they beat Arkansas. What's that you say? Arkansas was terrible? Yes, well, SEC fans think that even terrible SEC teams are better than everyone else, so this was a good win from that point of view. But, the 9-4 record needs to be kept in perspective since this was still Greg Schiano's team. Let's see what Kyle Flood can do in a couple years with his own guys. Still, this should be a win for Rutgers.
12/7 Memphis: Memphis is bad. Really bad. I mean REALLY bad. I forgot that they even had a football team. To be fair, they did make it to five bowl games in the 2000s (the last one being in 2008). They'll still be bad and will lose to the Huskies.
Conclusion: Five or six wins.