College Football
Preview
Maine at Connecticut
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, September 1, 2016
Where: Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut

Connecticut has made no secret about its desire to escape the American Athletic Conference for a spot in the prestigious Big 12 if it decides to expand again. The Huskies hope to become a bit more attractive to the Power Five conference with a big season and they kick things off against FCS member Maine at home on Thursday night.

Coach Bob Diaco, who is beginning his third year with Connecticut, arrived with a reputation as a defensive guru and hasn't disappointed as the Huskies finished ranked 17th in the country in scoring defense (19.5 points) and 33rd in total defense last season. Offensively, however, it was a different story as UConn was ranked 124th out of 128 FBS teams at 17.2 points. The Huskies still managed to secure a berth in their first bowl game since 2010 last year and return their top offensive weapons in dual-threat quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and diminutive running back Arkeel Newsome. Maine is 2-14 all-time against FBS squads and was hammered by UConn 38-0 in their last meeting in 2007.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: None

ABOUT MAINE (2015: 3-8): The Black Bears dropped their final four games last season and struggled offensively even more than the Huskies by averaging 14.9 points. Joe Harasymiak, 30, was named coach in December and will choose between Dan Collins and Drew Belcher at quarterback as both have shared time under center for the past two seasons. Collins is regarded as the better passer with 2,485 passing yards and 15 touchdowns in 17 career games, but Belcher is better on his feet and threw only two interceptions last season compared to Collins' 10.

ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2015: 6-7): Shirreffs, a redshirt junior, threw for 2,078 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, and ran for 503 yards in a dozen games a year ago and proved his toughness by missing only one start with a broken wrist. Newsome, an electric 5-7, 180-pound scatback combined for 1,686 all-purpose yards, ranking him 24th in the nation at 129.7 yards. The Huskies continue to pump out NFL-caliber defensive backs and junior Jamar Summers and redshirt senior Jhavon Williams appear to be the next in line.

EXTRA POINTS

1. UConn went 2-10 in Diaco's first season.

2. The Black Bears' last win against an AAC member came in 1997, when it defeated UConn 49-47 in triple overtime.

3. Junior Nigel Beckford, a Connecticut native, led Maine in rushing last season with 526 yards on 123 carries.

PREDICTION: Connecticut 40, Maine 10
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Maine 0-0 - 0.0 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
Connecticut 0-0 - 0.0 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
Last Meeting
Maine Connecticut
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
9/8/07 ME 0 CONN 38 152 64 88 379 183 196
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Maine N/A
Connecticut T. Lorenzen 65.4 186 2 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Maine N/A
Connecticut D. Brown II 20 87 4.4 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Maine N/A
Connecticut B. Kanuch 6 76 12.7 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Maine N/A
Connecticut T. Jeffers 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Maine N/A
Connecticut N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Maine N/A
Connecticut N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Maine N/A
Connecticut N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Maine N/A
Connecticut N/A
Quickchart Matchup
Maine Maine Off vs  Connecticut Connecticut Def
Maine 0 yards
Connecticut 0 yards
Maine 0 yards/rush
Connecticut 0 yards/rush
MaineConnecticut
Connecticut Connecticut Off vs  Maine Maine Def
Connecticut 0 yards
Maine 0 yards
ConnecticutMaineConnecticutMaine