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Rutgers vs. Connecticut: Getting to know the Huskies

As the Huskies prep to open their Big East season, UConn is hoping to hand Rutgers a major loss; for the second straight year.

Elsa - Getty Images

The Connecticut Huskies are hoping that history will be able to repeat itself on Saturday afternoon.

UConn (0-0, 3-2) opens their Big East schedule this weekend, when they take on the undefeated, and nationally ranked, # 22 Rutgers (1-0, 4-0) squad and the Huskies are hoping to once again hand the Scarlet Knights a disappointing loss on the gridiron.

Last season, the Huskies were able to top Rutgers 40-22, essentially shutting down the Scarlet Knight's run towards a Big East championship, but 2012 is a very different season for both squads.

This year the Scarlet Knights boast one of the most dominant defenses in the country, let alone the Big East, and Connecticut knows that scoring opportunities might be few and far between on Saturday.

"If anything, that's just more excitement for the offensive line," said offensive tackle Adam Masters of Rutgers' No. 1 rushing defense. "We have a great opportunity to prove ourselves. We can really get this offense going with some consistency on Saturday."

Going into Saturday's match-up, UConn's greatest offensive strength lies in sophomore running back Lyle McCombs, who has already racked up 581 all-purpose yards through the first five games of the season.

While McCombs has been taking on the brunt of the Huskies' offensive efforts throughout the early part of the season, recording 122 carries thus far, there is a concern that the redshirt sophomore might be overwhelmed.

"You always worry about guys wearing down," said Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni earlier this week. "But that's Lyle's strength. He doesn't want to come out of the game."

Although UConn's biggest goal going into Saturday is to find an offensive spark, the Huskies know that playing a complete game is essential if they're hoping to grab the Big East match-up.

The Scarlet Knights, under the leadership of running back Jawan Jamison and quarterback Gary Nova, have blossomed into an effective offensive unit, and the combination rushing and passing attack makes Rutgers one of the most potent squads playing right now.

That's where the Huskies defense, which averages just 15.6 allowed points per game, steps in.

Led by redshirt senior defensive tackle Ryan Wirth, the Huskies are anticipating a hard fought game in the defensive trenches on Saturday afternoon.

"I think the whole team in all phases has to come out and do well for this to be a successful game," Wirth said. "We have to go out this week and prepare the right way."

By the end of four quarters, the Huskies are simply hoping that last season's success against Rutgers will at least partially carry over from last year, as UConn lines up for their most important game of this early season.

"This has huge impact on the conference standings and we're all after the same thing," Pasqualoni said. "It'd be naive to think it's not an important game."