The UConn Huskies were one of college football's best stories last season as they underwent a remarkable turnaround going from a 1-11 record in 2021 to a 6-6 record. Despite the good feelings, there was concern over whether the Huskies would even go bowling late in the year.
Along with New Mexico State, the Huskies lacked a bowl agreement for the year, the only two schools in that situation. Ultimately, the Huskies found an open spot in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Now the Huskies may find themselves in that situation a lot less.
Last week, officials announced hopes for a Cincinnati Chili Bowl beginning in 2023 with a feasibility study beginning soon. Nothing was mentioned of bowl tie-ins, but a partnership between UConn and a new bowl is a symbiotic relationship.
While driving from Connecticut to Cincinnati is difficult, it's not unrealistic with it being an 11-hour drive. More importantly, the game would not require a last-minute cross-country flight and there is potential for a strong contingent of New York City-based UConn fans with flights being easy to find in the country's biggest travel hub.
Additionally, UConn is familiar with Cincinnati, playing in the Queen City every other year from 2005-2019 as a co-members of first the Big East, then the American Athletic Conference. It may be refreshing for UConn fans to reflect on their Big East days with a trip to Cincinnati.
As for an opponent, the MAC is the most logical option due to proximity. Regionally sensible matchups are important for UConn as an independent for the interest of its fanbase. Northeastern independent schools and MAC schools have had solid relationships in the past as every year from 2005-2018, Army had at least one MAC team on the schedule, and UConn and UMass' schedules are filled with MAC schools in the coming years.
Most importantly, the venue will not be that large, as Cincinnati Chili Bowl organizers are pursuing TQL Stadium, home of Cincinnati FC, as the home of their bowl. TQL Stadium holds 26,000, which is 14,000 less than Nippert Stadium, meaning the Huskies will have a significantly lower ticket allotment to sell if they were to go to the bowl, lowering the chances of losing money.
In the end, the Huskies can end all postseason destination doubts for at least a year while the Cincinnati Chili Bowl gets a growing, optimistic fanbase. If both parties are smart, they will make this happen.