STORRS, Conn. (Feb. 6, 2006) University of Connecticut football fans will be fortunate to be able to see their Huskies play seven times at Rentschler Field in 2006 for the second time in three years. The schedule for the upcoming season, released on Monday by the BIG EAST Conference, features home league dates against Nokia Sugar Bowl Champion West Virginia (Fri., Oct. 20), Pittsburgh (Nov. 11) and Cincinnati (Nov. 25). In non-conference action, the Huskies will play host to Rhode Island (Thurs., Aug. 31), Wake Forest (Sept. 16), Navy (Sept. 30) and Army (Oct. 14).
The Huskies are 15-4 all-time at their East Hartford home behind the strength of 14 sellouts in the programs 19 games played there. UConn also played seven home games in 2004 and recorded a 6-1 record in those contests.
The schedule gives us balance in terms of not being on the road more than one week at a time, UConn head coach Randy Edsall said. I like that the BIG EAST games are mostly together and later in the season while we also have a good mix of non-conference foes from the ACC, Big Ten and independents along with an old traditional opponent in Rhode Island. I think that it is great that our fans have seven opportunities to see us play here at Rentschler Field and hopefully well see some of them at road venues too.
The 2006 season will see UConn travel to Bloomington, Ind. for a contest with Indiana (Sept. 23) along with conference matchups on the road against South Florida (Oct. 7), Rutgers (Oct. 28), Syracuse (Nov. 18), and Louisville (Dec. 2).
UConn is scheduled to make a pair of national television appearances. The Huskies' tilt with the Mountaineers will air on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. while the Championship Saturday game at Louisville will air on either ESPN or ESPN2 at a time to be announced. It is also possible that UConn will add other television appearances on 12 day windows as the season progresses. In a break from recent years, UConn will play 10 of its 12 games on Saturdays in 2006.
Beginning in 2006, NCAA schools will play a 12-game regular season schedule on a permanent basis.
For the second straight year, UConn will open its season on the Thursday night prior to Labor Day as the Huskies renew acquaintances with Rhode Island on Aug. 31. URI is UConns most played opponent historically as the long-time Yankee Conference rivals have met 92 times on the gridiron with the Huskies holding a 49-35-8 edge in a series that dates back to 1897. UConn also opened its 2005 season at home on the Thursday night prior to Labor Day. That night the Huskies sold out their season opener for the first time in three years of play in East Hartford as a crowd of 40,000 saw UConn defeat Buffalo 38-0. The Huskies are a perfect 4-0 against Division I-AA competition since joining the Division I-A ranks in 2002.
After a bye week, on Sept. 16 UConn will welcome Wake Forest to Rentschler Field. The game is the return trip from UConns 51-17 victory at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Nov. 15, 2003 that successfully capped a 9-3 season for the Huskies. The Demon Deacons will be the second active member of the Atlantic Coast Conference to face UConn at Rentschler Field. The Huskies rallied from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Duke, 22-20, on Sept. 11, 2004 in UConns only previous East Hartford home date against active ACC competition. Wake Forest was 4-7 in 2005 but defeated two teams that won 2005 bowl games in Clemson (Champs Sports Bowl vs. Colorado) and NC State (Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. USF).
A week later, UConn will make its debut in Big Ten country as the Huskies travel to face Indiana at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington on Sept. 23. With this trip, UConn will have travelled in its brief tenure as a Division I-A program to play a team in every BCS Conference on its home field except for the Pac-10. The game is a return date from Rentschler Fields opening day when the Huskies rolled to a 34-10 win over the Hoosiers on Aug. 30, 2003 behind 218 all purpose yards by Terry Caulley. That game is UConns only previous meeting with a Big Ten opponent.
The Huskies will return home on Sept. 30 to play host to the Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy. Known for its option offense, Navy led the nation in 2005 averaging 318.67 yards per game on the ground en route to an 8-4 record that was capped by a 51-30 win over Colorado State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The Poinsettia Bowl bid marked the first time that Navy had ever appeared in three straight bowl games after also appearing in the 2003 Houston Bowl and the 2004 Emerald Bowl. UConn is scheduled to face the Mids each of the next three years after kicking off a series of four games in 2002. The Huskies fought through a torrential rain storm to shutout Navy, 38-0, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. on Nov. 16, 2002 as Terry Caulley ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns on a sloppy field. Overall though Navy leads the series with UConn 5-1.
UConn begins BIG EAST play on October 7 when it heads to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to take on USF. The Bulls will be excited to see the Huskies for Columbus Day Weekend after UConn handed USF a 15-10 loss at Rentschler Field last Nov. 26 that ended the Bulls BCS hopes. The game was shown regionally on ABC and marked UConns network television debut as Lou Allen ran for 101 yards and a touchdown. It will be UConns second trip to RJS, also home of the NFLs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the Huskies dropped a 41-20 decision there on Oct. 13, 2001 during the programs Division I-A transitional years. The Bulls enter the 2006 season on the heels of an appearance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the young programs first ever postseason contest.
UConn wraps up its 2006 non-conference slate with a home date against Army on Oct. 14. The game concludes a four-year scheduling run with the Cadets that has seen the Huskies win each of the previous three games in convincing fashion. In Armys first trip to Rentschler Field, Cornell Brockington ran for 111 yards and Dan Orlovsky threw for 288 with four touchdowns to lead UConn to a 40-3 win on Sept. 25, 2004. This season, UConn posted a 47-13 win on Oct. 1 at fabled Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y. The Cadets found their groove later in the season, recording their first four-game winning streak since 1996 and going undefeated in November for the first time since 1971 before falling to ancient rival Navy, 42-23, on Dec. 3 in Philadelphia. UConn leads the all-time series with Army, 3-1.
The Huskies will stay in-state for a week as West Virginia comes calling on Oct. 20. The Mountaineers will likely be the conference favorites as they return most of the core members of their 2005 BIG EAST Championship squad that went on to defeat Georgia in a Nokia Sugar Bowl game played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. UConn will be looking for its first ever win over West Virginia. The Huskies dropped a 31-19 decision to the Mountaineers on Oct. 13, 2004 in East Hartford and then lost, 45-13, on Nov. 2, 2005 in Morgantown. The WVU game will air in primetime national television as ESPN will show the game live at 8:00 p.m. Each of UConns three games against West Virginia have now been chosen for national primetime weeknight telecasts.
The following week, UConn will travel to Piscataway, N.J. for a matchup with the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. UConns last trip to Rutgers Stadium was a memorable one as the Huskies topped the Scarlet Knights, 41-35, on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 25, 2004, to win their seventh game of the season and ensure a berth in the Motor City Bowl. UConns previous trip to Piscataway was also noteworthy as, on Sept. 29, 2001, the transitioning Huskies beat Rutgers, 20-19, for the fledgling I-A programs first win over a BIG EAST Conference opponent. Since beginning the transition to I-A, UConn is 3-1 against Rutgers. The loss came on Oct. 22 of this past year as the Scarlet Knights took a tough, 26-24, decision at Rentschler Field en route to a berth in the Insight Bowl, Rutgers first bowl bid since 1978.
After the teams second bye week of the year, UConn returns home to face Pittsburgh on Nov. 11. The Huskies and Panthers have split their first two meetings as conference rivals. The Huskies took down Pitt, 29-17, at Rentschler Field on Sept. 30, 2004 to claim a nationally-televised victory in the programs first ever BIG EAST home game. That monumental win came over a Panther team that would go on to claim the leagues BCS berth that season and appear in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Last Nov. 12 the Panthers struck back though, topping UConn 24-0 at Heinz Field. UConn enjoyed a 107-yard advantage in total offense on the day but were unable to score.
The Huskies head to Syracuse a week later on Nov. 18 for their second contest all-time at the Carrier Dome. UConns first trip to central New York resulted in a frustrating, 42-30 loss on Oct. 30, 2004, a game in which, despite a school and Carrier Dome record 445 passing yards by Dan Orlovsky, the Huskies were doomed by five turnovers that led to 28 points. UConn got a measure of revenge last year though as the Huskies topped the Orange, 26-7, on Oct. 7, before the usual sell out crowd of 40,000 at Rentschler Field and a live primetime ESPN2 audience.
UConn will close out its 2006 home schedule on the 25th of November against Cincinnati. The Bearcats will make their Rentschler Field debut a year after taking a 28-17 victory over a beat-up Husky squad at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. UConn will be looking for its first win over UC as the Bearcats have taken both of the previous meetings between the sides. A young and talented team that returns 19 starters, the 2006 Bearcats will look to improve on their 4-7 mark from a year ago.
For the second year in a row, UConn will face Louisville on Championship Saturday to close out the regular season. A year ago, ESPN placed the game in its coveted Saturday night primetime slot as the networks A crew called a 30-20 Cardinal win from Rentschler Field over a 5-5 UConn team that needed a win for bowl eligibility. This years Dec. 2 contest will see the Huskies make their second appearance at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium after UConn lost there by a 41-22 score on Sept. 30, 2000 in the first year of the programs I-A transition. UofL represented the league in the Toyota Gator Bowl on Jan. 2.