Saturday, January 3, 2009

Well Big East fans, it all came down to today and the UCONN Huskies to conclude the conference's bowl season in the International Bowl against Buffalo. This was today's only bowl being broadcast and another opportunity for the Big East to showcase its wares against the MAC Conference champion led by hot coaching commodity, Turner Gill. UCONN did not disappoint as they overpowered the Bulls 38-20 in a game that demonstrated why Donald Brown was certainly overlooked as a Doak Walker finalist (and winner).

As mentioned, Donald Brown was worth the price of admission, carrying the ball 29 times for 261 yards (nine yards per carry) and a touchdown. With over 200 yards in the first half alone, Brown and soon-to-be departed offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose made it clear to Buffalo that they were going to be partying like it's 1909 by running play after play after play. Husky quarterback Tyler Lorenzen only made six pass attempts, completing four of them for 49 yards and a touchdown.

UCONN sealed the game with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Buffalo quarterback Drew "free" Willy was picked off in the endzone by Husky linebacker Dahna Deleston, who in turn, rushed the ball back 100 yards for another score. UCONN ends their season 8-5.

All three International Bowls ever played have now been won by Big East teams (Cincinnati in 2007 and Rutgers in 2008), while UCONN gets their first bowl win since a victory over Toledo in 2004's Motor City Bowl. The Big East Conference concludes the bowl season 4-2, and are now 12-4 in bowls since 2006 (certainly something boast about when negotiating new bowl tie-ins).

More on Donald Brown:

It is still unclear whether Donald Brown plans on returning for his senior season. He smiled while evading a post-game interview question, instead noting that he would be celebrating the victory with his teammates. There is no question, that with the early departure of top flight running backs Shonn Greene (Iowa), Knowshon Mareno (Georgia), and Javon Ringer (Mich. State), Brown would be considered a leading candidate for the the Doak Walker award in 2009. The Heisman may prove at least somewhat elusive for DB because it is unlikely that UCONN will perform well enough (a BCS bowl appearance is helpful when pushing a Heisman candidate) in the 2009 season. That being said, there is a lot excitement in Storrs over the potential of Notre Dame transfer QB Zach Frazier to lead the team to more promising results. For right now, I encourage all UCONN and Big East fans to revel in the success of the conference's regular and bowl seasons.

First standings, then links:

Pac 10 5-0
SEC 5-2
Big East 4-2
CUSA 3-2
Big 12 3-2
MWC 3-2
Sun Belt 1-1
ACC 4-6
WAC 1-4
Big 10 1-5
Indies 0-2
MAC 0-4