When people think about this year in UConn Athletics, most will look at the men’s basketball team picking up their fifth-ever national championship in a historic run. There has been enough content on that in The Daily Campus for now. Today, we’re going to take a look at the other sports at UConn. They may not have won championships, but there were tons of great moments across every sport. The women’s basketball team made the Sweet 16 and football made their first bowl game in nearly a decade. Not to mention baseball is No. 10 in the nation while the Ice Bus achieved that feat early in the season. What were our writers’ favorite non-MBB moments? Let’s take a look in today’s roundtable…
Associate Sports Editor
WBB RO32 over Baylor
There are A LOT of football answers here, but I’ll go with the women’s basketball team’s home win over Baylor in the Round of 32. One of the most special things about Women’s March Madness is that the first two rounds are played at home, on campus. This game illustrated just why that is — Gampel Pavilion was absolutely rocking on this Monday night, achieving a full sellout. Every play created an incredible reaction from the crowd and it created an unmatched home-court advantage. The biggest highlight was Azzi Fudd’s 16-point second half explosion that ultimately put the game out of reach. Even though the Huskies lost their next game in Seattle, the atmosphere created an unforgettable experience for their final win of the year.
Myrtle Beach Bowl
The beginning of the Jim Mora era for the UConn football team already gave Husky fans enough to cheer about when it came to Saturdays at Rentschler Field. However, UConn making their first bowl game since 2015 brought a different level of celebration and was definitely my favorite non-MBB moment this season. Despite the actual game (which obviously did not end in our favor), the overall experience of traveling to Myrtle Beach was one I couldn’t forget. The energy of UConn fans that surrounded Myrtle Beach during the weekend of the bowl game truly showed how deep ‘bleeding blue’ runs and how much Coach Mora shifted the program in just a single season. All the events at UConn hotels throughout the weekend were a blast to attend with the involvement of Mora and the players themselves. Getting to experience the Huskies playing under a large stage at Coastal Carolina was awesome and I know that there is going to be more success this upcoming season and beyond for UConn football.
UConn Football’s Nov. 12 game vs. No. 19 Liberty
This is a fairly obvious answer, but nonetheless, it was an incredible moment for UConn sports. The sheer fact that the team pulled off this win against all odds was incredible on its own, but the win coupled with Husky fans storming the field and the program clinching its first bowl bid since 2015 just makes this moment even better. The team had some incredible performances, including a win against Boston College, but this was easily their most impressive win of the season. From the Jackson Mitchell touchdown to the Keelan Marion two-point conversion, the game helped cement the Huskies as one of the best stories of the college football season, going from 1-11 and one of the worst teams in college football to a bowl bid in just the next season. It’s hard to beat a script like that and the team’s bowl-clinching win over Liberty is a big part of that.
UConn Football upsetting Fresno State
Before taking down the then-No. 19 Liberty Flames and handing them their first-of-four straight season-ending losses, the Huskies’ 19-14 upset of the Fresno State Bulldogs in early October was the program’s biggest win in years. The unranked Bulldogs entered East Hartford as a 23.5-point favorite, and after losing three straight blowouts to Power Five opponents, it seemed as though Connecticut would get swept in the two-year home-and-home series. Instead, UConn rallied from eight down in the second half behind a trick play and a Devontae Houston go-ahead touchdown to earn their first FBS win against a team not named UMass since 2017. On top of the Huskies’ thrilling rally, this game also served as sweet revenge and a sign of things to come, as Fresno State shut them out 45-0 in California to begin the 2021 campaign. In addition to the significance the game provided for the fans, this win turned into a resume booster for Connecticut as the season progressed because the Bulldogs finished the year on a nine-game winning streak.
UConn Football finally beats Boston College
If you’re old enough to remember the Big East from 1979 to 2004, UConn fans despised Boston College. The Eagles had far more success in football, ruling the early 1980s in northeast college football with Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie. His Hail Mary against Miami in 1984 is one of the greatest plays in college football history. They also were successful in the 2000s with Matt Ryan as quarterback. From 1912 to 2017, Boston College won 11 straight against the Huskies, with no losses in the series’ history. However, in head coach Jim Mora’s first season at UConn, the underdogs became the top dogs, as the once laughingstock of college football defeated the Eagles, 13-3, limiting potential first-round pick Zay Flowers to just two catches for 35 yards.
UConn Men’s Hockey OT victory on Students Only Night
One of the most highly anticipated events in Storrs this past year was the opening of a new state of the art hockey arena for UConn’s men’s and women’s hockey teams. On Feb. 22, the Huskies hosted the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves for a game open to only students. The Ice Bus finally got to play in-front of a sold out group of students for the first time ever after only ever playing at the XL Center. Toscano was rocking and the team did not disappoint as junior Hudson Schandor’s highlight-reel goal in overtime capped off a fantastic night at Toscano Family Ice Forum.