UConn shocked Liberty 36-33 on Saturday to earn bowl eligibility for the first time since 2015. The Huskies move to 6-5 under first-year coach Jim L. Mora, matching the total number of wins former coach Randy Edsall had during his second stint with the program. It is just UConn's second season with at least six wins since it appeared in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2010 season.
Liberty was riding high after beating Arkansas 21-19 for the first win against an SEC opponent after moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision just five years ago. However, the Flames' typically strong run defense allowed UConn to rush for 208 yards on 5.5 yards per carry. Running back Robert Burns put together a 100-yard performance, including a 58-yard breakaway scamper.
Freshman quarterback Zion Turner put together another strong game with 103 yards passing and a touchdown after taking over the starting job from injured Ta'Quan Roberson. Star linebacker Jackson Mitchell added a 31-yard scoop-and-score to get the Huskies out to a 14-3 start and build some momentum.
The Huskies were in one of the biggest holes in college football when Mora took over the program. Coming off a 1-11 effort in 2021, UConn did not play football in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and won three games combined in 2019 and 2018. In addition to putting together perhaps the four worst seasons in program history, UConn departed the American Athletic Conference after the 2019 season and struggled to find any identity as an independent.
Mora snapped a three-year losing streak against FBS opponents against Fresno State on Oct. 1. Since then, the Huskies have won five of their last six games, which included a Power Five victory over Boston College. The effort should be enough to earn Mora a spot on postseason national coach of the year lists.
While the Flames were not part of the latest CFP Rankings, their No. 23 AP ranking means the Huskies topped a ranked opponent for the first time since beating No. 13 Houston 20-17 in 2015 -- the same year it went to the St. Petersburg Bowl.