SB Nation Arizona's In-Game Fiesta Bowl Coverage

SB Nation Arizona covered the Fiesta Bowl from all angles on January 1, 2011. Read all about it here.

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Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners Punch In Another, Lead Connecticut 41-20 In Fourth Quarter

The Sooners have been relentless on offense, just as advertised. Landry Jone has now passed for over 420 yards and with this touchdown they have put this game safely out of Connecticut's reach. Even the New York Giants couldn't blow a 41-20 lead with under eight minutes left in the game. Right? The Huskie fans certainly agree as they are now fleeing the stadium in droves.

This latest drive of 10 plays and 88 yards was capped off by a brilliant catch from Ryan Broyles who was able to just get one foot down in the end zone. Broyles now has 13 receptions for 170 yards. Good night, Huskies. Thanks for coming.

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Oklahoma Fakes Field Goal, UConn Makes Big Stop Early In Fourth Quarter

The Huskies refuse to go away again! The Oklahoma Sooners faked a 47-yard field goal attempt, but Connecticut was able to drop back and make a big stop.

UConn takes possession of the ball at their own 30-yard line, and with 13:50 left in the game, they need to put together a quick touchdown drive.

The Connecticut Huskies have done a good job of keeping themselves in this game, but without a score here they will surely lose. It’s up to Zach Fraser and Jordan Todman now.

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Fiesta Bowl: UConn Rallies After Oklahoma Scoring Spree, 34-20 OU

With 9:44 left in the third quarter, Oklahoma took a 24 point lead and looked to be in complete control. Then, they kicked off.

Connecticut TB Robbie Frey ran the kickoff back 95 yards for a Huskies touchdown, finally giving the loyal UConn fans a reason to cheer.

After stopping Oklahoma on their next possession, the Connecticut Huskies drove down the field, mixing passes and running plays to great effect. UConn was able to add a field goal to their score, making it 34-20 with 5 minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Huskies refuse to go away.

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Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Offense Explodes Again, Defense Follows With Pick Six, 34-10

Just when it looked like Connecticut might be finding a way to get back into this game, the Oklahoma Sooners unleash their own brand of Dust Bowl hell. The Sooner and Huskies were both forced to punt on their first possessions of the second half but on their next drive OU blew the doors off the UConn defense with a quick strike touchdown pass.

The drive consisted of just four plays but went 80 yards in 1:01 minutes. After completing a long third down conversion, Landry Jones immediately found Cameron Kenney on the sideline in single coverage for a 59-yard touchdown strike.

On the subsequent Connecticut possession, the Sooners' Jamell Flemming picked off Zach Frazer and returned the ball to the end zone for a 55-yard pick six.

The only question left in this game is if the Huskies can somehow come back enough to prevent Oklahoma from beating the 17-point spread.

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Connecticut Defense Stops Oklahoma, Huskies Coming Back?

At the half, the Connecticut Huskies had to feel good about themselves. Despite being outplayed, outmuscled and outgunned, the Oklahoma Sooners only led 20-10.

With OU receiving the ball after the half, UConn could have found themselves even further in the hole. Instead, they came out and played tough defense, forcing a Sooners punt.

While Connecticut was unable to score on their next drive, they still showed a lot of character and mental toughness. It would have been easy to roll over and get blown out after going down 14-0 early, and a lot of that must be attributed to coach Randy Edsall. He has prepared his Huskies well for this Fiesta Bowl fight.

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Fiesta Bowl: Connecticut Intercepts Landry Jones, Runs Back For Score, OU Up 14-7

Wow. Just when you thought the Huskies were down for the count, something unexpected happens. Connecticut CB Dwayne Gratz ran back a Landry Jones interception 46 yards for the touchdown.

After being stymied on offense and being railroaded on defense, it was looking real bad for UConn. But the atmosphere here has shifted at University of Phoenix Stadium, and Huskies fans have come alive.

With 12:58 left in the second quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, the Oklahoma Sooners only lead by seven points and we actually have a game.

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Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Scores Again As UCONN Defense Proves Feckless, 14-0

The Oklahoma Sooners give up a 42-yard, 16 play drive to UCONN but got the ball back after the Huskies failed to convert a fourth and one attempt deep in Oklahoma territory. The Sooners got the ball back on their 26 and promptly put together another impressive drive.

Once again they used just nine plays to go 81 yards down field. The scoring drive was capped off with a three-yard touchdown from DeMarco Murray. Murray was stopped cold at the point of attack but bounced out and found the end zone. The Sooners have now dropped a 151 total yards on the Huskies in their first two drives. That includes 40 yards rushing and 111 through the air on a perfect 10-for-10 passing.

This game got boring really fast. Hopefully, UCONN can find a way to make it a contest.

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Fiesta Bowl: Jordan Todman Struggles To Find Forward Momentum In First Quarter

Jordan Todman is the lifeblood of the Connecticut Huskies offense, rushing for over 1,500 yards in the 2010 season. The Oklahoma Sooners were well aware of this when they designed their defensive game plan for the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. In the first quarter, Todman was only able to pick up 9 yards on eight rushing attempts.

The Sooners dared UConn QB Zach Fraser to pass the ball, and so far he has completed 6 of 8 passes for 49 yards. However, the Huskies have yet to score any points and their slow, plodding style of play isn't benefiting them.

Oklahoma QB Landry Jones completed all six of his passes on the first Sooners drive, resulting in a 7-0 lead and an explosion of noise from the mostly red-colored crowd. Without an adjustment to the Connecticut defensive scheme, this Fiesta Bowl could be a snoozer.

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Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners Strike First With Long Drive And Touchdown, 7-0

The Sooners of Oklahoma stuffed UCONN on their first possession and got the ball back quickly after the punt. In true Sooner fashion, Bob Stoops' team marched down the field on a nine-play, 71-yard drive that took only 2:57 off the clock. Quarterback Landry Jones found James Hanna for the first touchdown of the game. 

Oklahoma had four plays go for over ten yards with Landry Jones already racking up 55 yards on 5-5 passing. Six first downs on the drive and only one third down play was not a good sign for the Huskie defense. 

It's going to be a long night for the Huskies if the first two possessions are any indication. On UCONN's first drive of the game they managed just nine yards on three plays before being forced to punt the ball. 

 

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Oklahoma Sooners warm-up before the game.

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Connecticut Starts With Ball, Quickly Punts On First Drive Of Fiesta Bowl

The Connecticut Huskies started off the Fiesta Bowl with the ball, but on 3rd and short, Jordan Todman was stuffed on a wildcat keeper. UConn decided to punt and with 13 minutes left in the first quarter, the Huskies have already given the ball back to the Oklahoma Sooners.

Without better ball movement and a few more first downs, this will be a very long night in Glendale for Connecticut.

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Connecticut Huskies Ready For Fiesta Bowl Showdown With Oklahoma Sooners

In case you were wondering, the UConn Huskies are all set to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. After several days of fielding questions regarding their mediocre record and whether or not they "belong" in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, the time has come to put up or shut up. With roughly twenty minutes before kickoff, it's time to see what the Big East champions are made of.

Here are some pictures to whet your appetite for the game that's about to begin. I'll be bringing you Connecticut Huskies coverage all evening for SB Nation Arizona, so stick here for big updates.

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The Huskies got their stretch on before the game.

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Then they got together and got rowdy.

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Lest we forget the adorable Connecticut Husky. The rarest of dogs: the upright kind! Finally, here's a pic of the pregame ceremony, where a legit eagle was released during the National Anthem. Wild.

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Fiesta Bowl Pregame Report: Underdog UCONN Huskies Looks For Upset Over Oklahoma Sooners

Chances are good that most college football fans have recovered from their New Year's Eve party hangovers and will be fully good to go, and perhaps even ready to hit the beer again, by the time the Fiesta Bowl kicks off at about 6:40 p.m. local time. The problem of course, is the match up features two teams that aren't generating much interest on a national level outside the hard core fans of both teams. 

Oklahoma (11-2) at least is a school with strong football tradition and comes in as the champion of the football powerhouse, Big 12. Connecticut on the other hand, sports a flimsy 8-4 record and arrives thanks to their status as Big East Champion which they earned via tie-breaker over West Virginia. 

The BCS forces have combined to give us a game that on paper is completely lopsided with Vegas anointing the Sooners as 17-point favorites. Being the underdog is a familiar place for UCONN Head Coach Randy Edsall.

"That's the story of our life. We have been the underdog ever since we've undertaken this adventure, this journey. So it is really no different than what we're used to all the time. I always think any time if there is somebody who doubts you or questions you, it just makes you go a little bit harder and play a little bit harder and prepare a little bit harder," Edsall said in a pregame press conference.

Things aren't all peaches and cream for the Sooners either. They bring in a dubious record in their last five bowl appearances. Coach Bob Stoops explained.

"I brought this up the other day. It's 0-3 in national championship games and 0-2 in BCS games, so if you want to be technical about it. But in the end, it's brought up. Our players are aware of it. But each year is a different game, a different team."

The key match-up in the game is between the effective running game of the Huskies lead by running back Jordan Todman who averaged 143 yards per game this season.

"They are a very physical, excellent running football team. Jordan Todman is a great back and very physical, strong in how he runs. But they're very creative in all the different ways they create scenes and create the run game. It will take a lot of discipline by our defensive guys to be in position, you know, to - you have to be physical to get off blocks, physical tackling and hopefully handle the run game. That will be a big factor," Stoops said.

The Huskies pride themselves on their defense this season but will have their hands full with the nation's fourth-best offense. The up-tempo style of Sooner play and the number of weapons they employ in their balanced attack has Coach Edsall searching for answers.

"Like I said, you feel like the little boy at the dike and the holes are starting to come in and you only have so many fingers to plug the holes, and they have so many talented, skilled athletes. And really what you have to do is you just have to - to me, you got to try to play good, sound, fundamental defense and execute your techniques because, again, they got good wide receivers, they got a good running back, a good offensive line. The quarterback is very good and very accurate," the UCONN coach said.

SB Nation Arizona is on-hand for this "great" match-up and will have tons of "great" coverage of the game.

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Fiesta Bowl Preview: UCONN And Oklahoma Both Confident At Media Day

The UCONN Huskies and Oklahoma Sooners continued their Fiesta Bowl sponsored blitz tour of Phoenix. Today's activities started with media day for both teams. The entire squad from each school was bussed to the swanky Camelback Inn for a question and answer session with the combined interrogation powers of the local and national media. 

Held in a giant ballroom, the teams were shuffled in with UCONN having the underdog honors of going first. The event kicked off with a presentation by a representative of title sponsor, Tostitos. The head coach was given a gift basket consisting of various bags of potato (and corn) chips as the corporate spokesperson solemnly -- and with a completely straight face -- stated that the snack food would help the teams' coaching staffs as they prepared for the big game. Seriously.

The next presentation was from the Vice Mayor of the City of Glendale who said some nice things about something or other and gave the coach from each team a giant gift basket with chocolate from local candy maker, Cerreta. In true political fashion, the Vice Mayor gave the same speech twice only changing up his final "Go Huskies" and "Go Sooners" closing as appropriate. 

After the presentation of the chips and chocolate gift baskets that would have satiated the cravings of many pot-smoking college students, the coaches conducted a brief press conference while the various players were stationed individually at tables throughout that room. It was basically 30 minutes of media/player speed dating.

UCONN comes into the game with their primary offensive weapon full of confidence despite his team being a 17-point underdog. Junior running back Jordan Todman finished the season with 1632 rushing yards (143.1 / game) said it was a great feeling to be in the Fiesta Bowl and tossed aside any notions that the unranked Huskies didn't deserve to be in this game.

"It is like a smack in the face. We won the Big East and we are here rightfully," Todman said. 

Oklahoma was heavily favored to win the last two times they were here and blew both game. They are confident that they are preparing properly to prevent the three-peat.

Running back DeMarco Murray talked about the Sooners uptempo and highly potent offense that averaged 36.4 points per game.

"We have a really good offense,"  Murray said.

Most of the Sooners players acknowledged they didn't know much about the Huskies prior to their preparation for this game. Defensive back Quinton Carter admitted that when he thinks of UCONN, the first thing that comes to his mind is women's basketball.

 

Players from both teams enjoyed gawking at the fancy Fiesta Bowl trophy. 

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