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Fiesta Bowl Preview: Connecticut, Oklahoma -- as a Favorite -- Clash in the Desert

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

What it is: A series of live shots of bags of Tostitos wrapped around a football game. Oh, I'm sorry. The games have been moved off of FOX, so we might actually be able to focus on the football at least a bit.

The Teams: Connecticut and Oklahoma

How UConn got here: Because the BCS contract says so. The Big East has to have a champion, and that champion has to go to a BCS bowl. Connecticut started out as something of a dark horse, then was erased from the national memory after opening the season with a 30-10 loss at Michigan. If that didn't do it, the two-touchdown loss at Temple a couple of weeks later did. Any remaining hangers-on were convinced when a 26-point shutout loss to Louisville in late October put the Huskies at 3-4 for the year. UConn then went on one of the more improbable five-game winning streaks in college football history, defeating Big East front-runners West Virginia and Pittsburgh and a revitalized Syracuse before clocking Cincinnati and edging South Florida in Tampa to claim the BCS berth. As with anything in the Big East (and the ACC), the turnaround is something of a mystery. But the star of the show has remained the same: RB Jordan Todman, who has 1,574 yards and 14 TDs on 302 carries, ran for 100 yards in all but two of the 11 games in which he played, missing the milestone by 20 yards against Louisville and seven against USF. Those two games and the tilt with Pittsburgh were also the only times he didn't score at least once. Don't look for Connecticut to go to the air; they rank 112th in NCAA in passing.

How Oklahoma got here: Because the money is too good for Oklahoma to turn down BCS games, despite the fact that they keep losing them. The Sooners have lost five straight BCS games, including the 2006-07 Fiesta Bowl against Boise State and a 20-point loss in the 2007-08 Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia -- both of whom were sizable underdogs at kickoff. On the one hand, you have to give them credit for making it to the BCS so often. On the other hand, you have to point out that they've lost five straight trips -- and laugh. This year, they go to Glendale thanks in large part to the arm of one Landry Jones. Jones lived up to his sizable buzz, rebounding from a rocky effort in the first game of the year against Utah State to firebomb the rest of the schedule for 4,289 yards and 35 TDs against 11 INTs. Still, prognosticators who pegged Oklahoma as a national title contender looked slightly crazy as they won all but one of their first five games by what were, particularly in retrospect, largely unimpressive margins. Not long after that, they lost at Missouri and at Texas A&M in a three-week period and looked likely to drop out of the race for the Big XII South. That was before wins over Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State locked up the trip to the final Big XII Championship Game, where Oklahoma defeated longtime rival Nebraska to head to another BCS loss berth. The defense that was once Bob Stoops' calling card is now decidedly middle-of-the-road -- allowing almost 364 yards a game. But in the Big XII, that's apparently enough.

College football fans care because: It's Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl -- something interesting will certainly happen.

SEC fans care because: The Big XII or the Big East -- do you really like either of them?

Watch this game if...: You like upsets.

The result: Connecticut 23, Oklahoma 20