STORRS, Conn. (AP) – South Florida visits Connecticut Saturday hoping to stay in the running for a Big East co-championship and a BCS bowl berth.

The Bulls (6-3, 4-1) can clinch a tie for the Big East title with victories over UConn and conference-leader West Virginia next week.

But the Huskies, plagued all season by injuries, are getting healthy again. Connecticut (4-5, 1-4 Big East) sees the game as a chance to turn a disappointing season into a winning one.

Quarterback Matt Bonislawski is back for his second consecutive start after breaking a collarbone in UConn’s last victory – 26-7 win over Syracuse on Oct. 7. Connecticut has lost four in a row since then.

South Florida brings a speedy defense and a hard-charging ground game into Rentschler Field. Andre Hall leads the conference in rushing at almost 121 yards per game.

“It’s not surprising to me,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “I’ve said all along that this would be a team that could come along.”

The Huskies are 0-2 against USF. Their last loss was a 40-21 defeat at South Florida in 2001. Saturday’s game is the first meeting at Rentschler Field.

The Huskies have struggled to score points. They’ve averaged 13 points in their last four losses and were shutout by Pittsburgh 24-0 on Nov. 12. The Huskies outgained the Panthers both on the ground and in the passing game, but couldn’t punch it in from the red zone.

“We’ve just got to buckle down once we get down there,” Bonislawski said.

“It all comes down to being able to execute – hold your blocks a little longer, throw a little bit quicker. Everything happens a little bit faster because it’s tighter down there. We’ve got to get back to .500. If we get to that, we can go for a winning season.”

Bonislawski could have a little more help on Saturday as the health of the Huskies improve. Banged up fullback Lou Allen also is probable, as is right guard Craig Berry. On defense, senior linebacker Taurien Sowell could make his first appearance since spraining an ankle in a loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 15.

“With (Bonislawski) there’s a bit more leadership out there. He steadies the ship a little bit more,” Edsall said.

With Sowell back on defense, the Huskies would gain another leader. A three-year letter winner, the hard-hitting Sowell had 31 tackles before he was injured. Defensive tackle Deon McPhee, Sowell’s roommate, is hoping the senior linebacker will pick up where he left off.

“It’s going to be good to have the quarterback of the defense back, which he is,” McPhee said. “He can get guys where they need to be before the snap and that’s important.”

AP-ES-11-25-05 1259EST


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