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2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl - UConn vs. Wake
Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen
Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 20, 2007


2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl Preview - Connecticut vs. Wake Forest



Connecticut (9-3) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)

Dec. 29, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More

National Rankings
Wake Forest Connecticut
Total Offense
98th  334.42 ypg 83rd  358.33 ypg
Total Defense
38th  351 ypg 31st  346.33 ypg
Scoring Offense
60th  28.17 ppg 62nd  27.83 ppg
Scoring Defense
34th  23.25 ppg 11th  18.58 ppg
Run Offense
72nd  143.17 ypg 45th  165.25 ypg
Run Defense
17th  108.92 ypg 64th  158.50 ypg
Pass Offense
94th  191.25 ypg 91st  193.08 ypg
Pass Defense
78th  242.08 ypg 14th  187.83 ypg
Turnover Margin
15th  0.83 7th  1.08
Wake Forest
at Bost Coll L 38-28
Nebraska L 20-17
Army W 31-10
Mary. W 31-24 OT
at Duke W 41-36
Florida St W 24-21
at Navy W 44-24
N Carolina
W 37-10
at Virginia L 17-16
at Clemson L 44-10
NC State W 37-17
at Vander. W 31-17
Connecticut
at Duke W 45-14
Maine W 38-0
Temple W 22-17
at Pitt W 34-14
Akron W 44-10
at Virginia L 17-16
Louisville W 21-17
So Florida W 22-15
Rutgers W 38-19
at Cincinnati L 27-3
Syracuse W 30-7
at W Virginia L 66-21
Position Ratings
relative to each other
WF 5 highest
1 lowest
C
4 Quarterbacks 2
4 RBs 4
3 Receivers 2
3.5 O Line 3
4 D Line 3.5
3.5 Linebackers 4.5
3.5 Secondary 4.5
4 Spec Teams 4
5 Coaching 4.5

If not for the trademark helmets and uniforms, you’d have a hard time telling Connecticut and Wake Forest apart in Charlotte.

Both overachieving programs have impersonated Cinderella in the last two years, run the ball to set up the pass, play solid defense, and are led by coaches that were recently courted for higher-profile job openings.  Just to be safe, the Huskies will be the team in blue and white, and the Demon Deacons in black and gold.    


While it might seem like the Meineke Car Care Bowl is a regression for Wake Forest after playing in the 2007 Orange Bowl, the exact opposite is true.  This is the first time in school history that the program is playing in back-to-back bowl games, another sign of progress under the steady hand of Jim Grobe.  The Deacons started the year slowly before reeling off six straight wins, including a primetime defeat of Florida State, to secure that postseason berth.  A second-place finish in the ACC Atlantic exceeded expectations, signaling that last season’s success was no one-year fluke, and that few staffs squeeze more out of their personnel than the one in Winston-Salem.           

The blueprint for Wake Forest’s eight wins was no different than the one that got it to Miami in January.  The Deacons are determined to establish the running game on offense, while the defense prevents big plays and parlays pressure into opponents’ mistakes with a group of players that bigger ACC schools didn’t recruit.  The ground game has been powered by an unlikely source, freshman Josh Adams, who was expected to take a back seat to Micah Andrews and Kevin Harris.  Instead, he went on to lead Wake with 887 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors.      

Connecticut earning a share of the Big East title makes sense in hoops, but not in football, which was pegged as an also-ran before the season began.  Behind the play of a stingy, no-name defense, the Huskies defied the odds all season before lopsided November losses to Cincinnati and West Virginia ended hopes for an improbable BCS bowl berth.  Sure, the Meineke Car Care Bowl is a far cry from the Orange Bowl, but just playing a 13th game is a tremendous building block for Randy Edsall, who did the unlikely with a ton of underclassmen.       

Not unlike Wake Forest, Connecticut’s calling card has been a bend-don’t-break defense that’s opportunistic and very good at creating takeaways.  Youngsters, such as LBs Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus, and S Robert Vaughn, blended with the holdovers to give the Huskies a unit that ranks No. 8 nationally in pass efficiency defense and No. 7 in turnover margin.  West Virginia is the only school that’s solved the Connecticut D, and as long as Pat White and Steve Slaton aren’t traded to Wake Forest, the Huskies will be stout once again in the 2007 finale.

Players to watch: Although Donald Brown began the season as Connecticut’s feature back, Andre Dixon wrested the role away, cutting and slashing his way to a team-high 809 yards on the ground to go along with 24 receptions.  Both sophomores, however, will play integral parts in an offense that’s decidedly conservative and short on playmaking receivers.

For all the attention the UConn breakthrough players received on defense, LB Danny Lansanah has been a rock steady force in the middle for the past four seasons.  The Husky leader in tackles and tackles for loss, he’s also a hawk in pass defense, picking off four balls in 2007 to give him 10 on the career.  Wherever the ball is, No. 48 won’t be far away, especially in a game that’ll be played close to the line of scrimmage.

When Wake Forest tries to deviate from the script, it’ll call upon WR Kenneth Moore, an all-purpose and the program’s most dangerous offensive player.  He leads the Deacons with 87 catches, yet will be used often on end-arounds and inside handoffs, and is one of the ACC’s better punt returners.  Pencil Moore in for around 20 touches, one of which will go for at least 50 yards.

The team’s playmaker on defense is CB Alphonso Smith, a risk-taker that’ll get exposed occasionally, but compensates with a bunch of batted balls and picks.  Three of Smith’s eight interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, something Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen will remember every time he drops back to throw.

Connecticut will win if
... jumps out to an early lead.  The Huskies can be dog tough to mount a comeback against, but when forced to play from behind, they’re completely out of their element.  Although Lorenzen has been a find in his first season out of junior college, he pilots the nation’s No. 91 passing attack, and lacks a receiver that can intimidate the athletic Wake Forest secondary.  If Connecticut isn’t able to run the ball at least 40 times with Dixon and Brown, it’s an indication that it’s been forced to throw more than it likes, a recipe for a quiet trip back to Storrs.

Wake Forest will win if
... it scores a non-offensive touchdown.  In a game that figures to be close and low-scoring, a defensive or special teams score is the kind of play that will be a turning point.  No one in America has been more prolific at non-offensive touchdowns than the Deacons, which have 10 in 12 games.  If Smith or LB Aaron Curry go the other way with a pick, or if Moore or mercurial Kevin Marion go the distance with a kick, it might be more than the methodical Connecticut offense can overcome.  In games that Wake Forest has scored an unconventional touchdown, it’s won five of six games in 2007.

What will happen
: It’ll be a competitive, if not always entertaining battle with each team battling hard from the start.  In a game between evenly matched opponents, the difference will be the Wake Forest offensive line, which is home to the most talented player in the stadium.  Against a soft interior of the Connecticut line, Demon Deacon C Steve Justice will help pave the way for the backs to extend drives and keep QB Riley Skinner from having to win the game.  With both defenses playing well, ace Wake K Sam Swank will lead both sides in scoring.

Line:
Wake Forest -3 ... CFN Prediction: Wake Forest 26 ... Connecticut 17

2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More