Going into this past weekend’s game against Fresno State, the UConn football team was a 23.5-point underdog. Given that the Huskies lost the previous two weeks to a pair of top 10 teams by a combined score of 100-10, this line felt reasonable. However, as the game progressed, things started trending towards the Huskies not only covering the spread, but actually winning — which they ultimately did. With UConn beating a team of Fresno’s caliber, one has to wonder what this means in the grand scheme of the season.
After all, six games in, UConn has already doubled its victory total from last year. Three of its four losses came to teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25. And this win was incredibly impressive, given the Huskies were missing their starting quarterback, top two receivers and lead pair of running backs. The defense played phenomenally, only allowing seven points the whole contest. The young offense, spearheaded by true freshman quarterback Zion Turner wasn’t perfect, but it got its act together when needed by putting together a masterful 95-yard, game-winning drive.
That drive set the tone for the second half of the season that could establish coach Jim Mora as a success already. With this past game in mind, let’s look ahead to their next six and discuss how they could earn a 13th game this year.
Oct. 8 @ FIU
If UConn is going to win any more games this season, this is their best shot. According to The Athletic’s full 131 team rankings, the Panthers are No. 125, while the Huskies sit at No. 114. ESPN’s FPI places FIU dead last in the country. Even though it’s away, UConn is already a 4.5-point favorite. If UConn wants to get to six wins, they need to beat some teams better than them and every team that’s worse than them. FIU falls into the latter category. They took a 73-0 beating to a mediocre Western Kentucky team that was ranked below Fresno State before this last week started. A loss for the Huskies here would be a travesty.
Stratton’s Win Probability: 75%
Oct. 15 @ Ball State
Ball State is just seven and eight spots better than UConn in The Athletic and FPI rankings, respectively, making this game very winnable. There’s nothing about the Cardinals’ performance so far that indicates they would clearly beat UConn, as they defeated FCS Murray State and FPI No. 110 Northern Illinois by only six. UConn by far holds the better win against Fresno, a team that is supposed to be better than Ball State. If UConn wants to make a bowl, this is a must-win opportunity, but it’s much less important in the bigger picture given that they’re not expected to make a bowl. If the Huskies have a 4-4 record after this week, there’s reason to believe they’ll hit bowl eligibility.
Stratton’s Win Probability: 45%
Oct. 29 vs. Boston College
This is the statement game. Boston College is a northeastern, old Big East rival who will be coming to town expecting to win. They just picked up a nice win over Louisville, but are still 2-3 on the year and sit worse than No. 80 in most metrics and rankings. If UConn manages to enter this one 4-4, then there’s a really strong chance that this game will mean a lot more to the Huskies than it will to the Eagles. UConn has never beaten BC in six tries. A win here would essentially guarantee a bowl game for UConn. Although it’s an uphill battle, there’s definitely a chance.
Stratton’s Win Probability: 30%
November 4th vs. UMass
Let’s emphasize “must-win” as much as we can here, because games don’t get as important as this one is. The Minutemen are one of two teams left on the schedule that are rated worse than the Huskies in every ranking. This is the only such opponent they will get at home. If UConn is able to beat the odds and win the three prior games, this is the one that would send them to a bowl. UConn and UMass have alternated wins for their past six meetings, so UConn should have the edge in this year’s “U Game.”
Stratton’s Win Probability: 80%
Nov. 11 vs. Liberty
Senior Night is really the biggest thing that UConn has going for them against Liberty. The Flames rank in the top half of the FBS in most metrics and lost at now-No. 15 Wake Forest by just a point. If they’re that close to being a top 25 team, that spells trouble for UConn, who has lost to such teams by an average of over 40 points. If the Huskies enter this game with less than five wins, their chances of a bowl will be slim. This is their least likely win of the next six games.
Stratton’s Win Probability: 15%
Nov. 19 @ Army
Behind Liberty, this is the next toughest matchup. Although Army is lower than No. 80 in most metrics like BC, they just always seem to pose a tough battle for UConn. All three of the Black Nights’ losses came to teams in the lower half of the FBS, and their lone win was against FCS Villanova. It’s clear they aren’t great, but we’ll have a much better sense of how bad they are in the next month and a half before their game against the Huskies. Even with Army not being what it used to be, any game at Michie Stadium is a tough win.
Stratton’s Win Probability: 20%
To be clear, I am in no way saying that UConn will go to a bowl. I’m merely saying that there’s a chance. After all, my percentages combined give UConn an expected win total of 4.65, which would have them miss a bowl. But if Mora can continue to do more with less, there’s no telling what this team could accomplish.