Wake Forest is going bowling in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, while UConn is making just its second bowl appearance.
Wake Forest lost 24-13 to Louisville in last season's Orange Bowl. The Huskies were 39-10 winners over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl in 2004.
Connecticut challenged for the outright Big East championship until losing 66-21 at West Virginia in its regular season finale. But the Huskies wound up claiming a share of the title when the Mountaineers were upset 13-9 by Pitt the following week.
The Demon Deacons finished in a tie for second place with Clemson (9-3, 5-3) in the ACC Atlantic division. A year ago, Wake Forest defeated Georgia Tech in the conference championship game.
One irony stands out about these two schools - each team played at Virginia this year and came away with 1-point losses by the identical score of 17-16.
Wake Forest is led by QB Riley Skinner who threw for 1,936 yards but had 12 INT's to 11 TD's. Josh Adams led all Demon Deacon runners with 887 yards and 10 TD's. The Wake Forest offense ranked 94th in passing and 72nd in rushing. The run defense ranked 17th, but the team was only ranked 78th against the pass.
Indeed, turnover ratio helped Wake Forest more than anything. The Demon Deacons were +10 to rank 3rd in the ACC and 15th in the country.
UConn also won the turnover battle, finishing 7th in the nation at +13. The Huskies gave the ball away only 14 times all season, and three of those were fumbles in the lost at West Virginia. Wake Forest had 24 giveaways.
Huskies' quarterback Tyler Lorenzen wasn't called on to throw a lot in coach Randy Edsall's offense, and he made very few mistakes when the need arose. Lorenzen threw for 13 TD's and just 5 INT's while completing 57% of his passes for 2,269 yards.
Andre Dixon (809 yards, 3 TD's) and Donald Brown (749 yards, 8 TD's) combined for 1,558 rushing yards. Between them, UConn had a 100-yard rusher in eight different games (Duke, Maine, Temple, Akron, Louisville, South Florida, Rutgers and West Virginia).
Even with the 66 points allowed at WVU, the Huskies still tied for 11th nationally in points allowed. Cincinnati managed to tally 27 points, and Rutgers scored 19, but everyone else was held to 17 points or fewer.