Big East Football: Connecticut Gives Old Rival UMass Rude FBS Welcome

Kevin McGuire@KevinOnCFBAnalyst IIAugust 31, 2012

Connecticut was dominant Thursday night. Did they set the tone for what could be a 5-0 September?
Connecticut was dominant Thursday night. Did they set the tone for what could be a 5-0 September?Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

There was a time when Connecticut and Massachusetts made for a competitive rivalry in the northeast, but if Thursday night's action was any indication, it could be a while until we see the two old rivals on the same field.

Connecticut's defense was dominant in Thursday night's season opener, as the Huskies handed the Minutemen a 37-0 loss in UMass's first FBS game.

Connecticut scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, making this a total team effort.

Quarterback Chandler Whitmer passed for 219 yards but was intercepted two times. The junior college transfer was named the starting quarterback heading into preseason camp, and while he was far from perfect, he gave Huskies fans a glimpse as to why Paul Pasqualoni named him the starter after instability at the position last fall.

It is only one game of course, and there is still some work to be done for the Huskies quarterback and offense.

Fortunately for Connecticut, the defense was the story of the night, allowing just 59 yards of offense to UMass. The FBS newcomers were just 3-for-15 on third down, while the Huskies were 8-for-16.

The Massachusetts pass attack accounted for 56 of the 59 offensive yards, as the running game just never found any room to wiggle through in the trenches. Connecticut's defense looked stout, but nobody should get too carried away with the win over a program making the jump up in classification and not anywhere close to fielding an FBS roster.

It will take some time for Massachusetts to get on a more level playing field with Connecticut.

UConn kicker Chad Christen kicked three field goals, including a 47-yard and 37-yard field goal in the second quarter to help Connecticut create some early separation before really pulling away for a victory.

Perhaps by the next time these two schools meet in football, things will be different.

There are no future dates currently on the schedule for UConn and UMass, and the non-conference schedule for UMass is booked for the next two seasons including games against Boston College, Maine, Penn State, Vanderbilt and more.

In time, these two will play again, and by then, UMass should have a roster better equipped to handle the FBS competition.

As for UConn, playing in a conference that always seems to be wide open, this was a good first step to establishing a tone for the season. Sure, it was against an inferior opponent but things should get tougher next week with a home game against North Carolina State and the following week against former coach Randy Edsall and Maryland.

A 3-0 start is not out of the question.

If UConn can get to 3-0, a 5-0 start heading into Big East play is well within reach with Western Michigan and Buffalo rounding out the September schedule.

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Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow Kevin McGuire on Twitter and Facebook.