With Civil ConFLiCT resolved, UConn must win three of final four to reach bowl game

Central Florida head coach Scott Frost, right, shakes hands with Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco following an NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Central Florida head coach Scott Frost, right, shakes hands with Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco following an NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

(WTNH)–With the passing of another fall Saturday in New England came the contention of another Civil ConFLiCT, the battle anticipated by at least one man in Connecticut every year since 2013.

The third (?) fourth (?) chapter in this storied rivalry was written by UCF, which punctuated its 24-16 win over UConn by leaving the fabled ConFLiCT trophy on the field, where it sat, in the rain, while UConn staffers awkwardly looked at each other, wondering what to do with it.

Now that the ConFLiCT has been resolved, UConn must move on to battles of lesser importance, like the Mild Misunderstanding with East Carolina this weekend, and the Our Fan Bases Don’t Really Have Any History But It Would Be Cool If We Both Cared About This Game Since We Have To Play It Every Year against northeast rival Temple.

With or without any extemporaneous reasons for caring about these final four games, the Huskies know this: they must win three of their final four to reach a bowl for the second straight year.

Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins (88) catches a touchdown pass over the defense of Connecticut cornerback John Robinson IV (31) during the second quarter of an NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins (88) catches a touchdown pass over the defense of Connecticut cornerback John Robinson IV (31) during the second quarter of an NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

The task isn’t impossible–all of UConn’s remaining opponents are beatable, and their toughest foe, Temple, comes to Rentschler Field on November 4.

A win next Saturday at East Carolina is a must, as is a home win over Tulane on November 26.

Winning at Boston College would actually be sweet, and it would be especially meaningful if it put the Huskies in position to reach a bowl game.

But the Huskies have plenty of work to do before they think about that. UConn’s offense is too predictable, the passing game too heavily reliant on star receiver Noel Thomas, and not explosive enough.

The Huskies didn’t score after taking a 16-7 lead with 1:25 left in the second quarter on Saturday, and a nine-play, 75 yard drive the defense surrendered in just under a minute and a half was inexcusable.

Central Florida opened the second half with a seven-play, 75 yard drive, executed in just 2:33, to take a 21-16 lead, and never looked back.

“We’re going back to work,” Diaco told reporters after the game. “Work a little harder, wake up a little earlier, stay a little later. If it’s possible. We’ll see.”

“Going back to work and working harder is really the only solution I know.”

For all of the grief he’s taken about the “Civil ConFLiCT,” and as funny as it was that Central Florida left the made-up trophy on UConn’s bench after beating the Huskies Saturday, there’s no doubt that Bob Diaco deserves credit for what he’s done in his first three seasons in Storrs.

This team is markedly better than the disastrous outfits Paul Pasqualoni ran out there during the final days of his tenure, and it’s probably better than last season’s team, which beat Houston and reached the St. Petersburg Bowl.

The problem for these Huskies has been their schedule, which has included improved teams like Syracuse, Central and South Florida. The final four games–at East Carolina, Temple, at Boston College, Tulane–are arguably the most manageable ones on the schedule, save for the season opener against Maine.

Reaching a bowl game for the second straight year would be a terrific accomplishment in Diaco’s long-term rebuild of this program. It’s what the Huskies set out to do when the season began.

Yes, UConn fans are impatient, unreasonable and sometimes downright delusional about their team. They expect and demand success because they’re used to it–with UConn men’s and women’s basketball, the Yankees, Red Sox, Patriots, Giants, Rangers, Bruins, etc.

But, don’t lose hope, Huskies fans.

You may have lost the ConFLiCT, but the war is far from over.

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