GLENDALE, Ariz. – Connecticut did not only lose the biggest game in its history. The Huskies also lost their star running back.
Jordan Todman said after the game that he will declare for the NFL draft. Coach Randy Edsall said he is "100 percent behind" Todman's decision.
"I felt like it was the right time for me,'" Todman said.
Edsall congratulated Todman for his great career.
"He has made a difference in this program, made a huge difference," Edsall said.
Todman's announcement came after a performance by the Huskies that probably will not squelch the belief of many that Connecticut did not deserve to be in a BCS game.
The Huskies of the much-maligned Big East stayed with heavily favored Oklahoma for awhile, but could not slow, let alone stop, Landry Jones and the rest of the Sooners' offense in a 48-20 Fiesta Bowl loss Saturday night.
Connecticut gave up a season-high 524 yards, 429 of them on Jones' passing. The Huskies (8-5) did not get a touchdown from their offense. Their two TDs came on Dwayne Gratz's 46-yard interception return and Robbie Frey's 95-yard kickoff return.
In his final game for Connecticut, Todman managed 126 yards but needed 32 carries to get them, an average of 3.8 per carry, well below his regular-season average of 5.2.
"I feel like there was times when we could have done things to attack them better or just do better running the ball," he said. "But I did my best, and I'm sure my offensive line did, the wideouts did, and the coaching staff, we all did. We do what we can do, but we were going against tough competition."
The unanimous choice for Big East offensive player of the year, the junior tailback from North Dartmouth, Mass, finished with 15 career 100-yard rushing games, 10 of them this season. He had 1,700 yards rushing this season in 616 carries. He came into the game second nationally in yards per game at 120.9.
Oklahoma started with a 14-0 first quarter and ended with a 14-0 fourth quarter. In between, it was a 20-20 tie but that's not what will be remembered, especially by critics who feel the Big East no longer deserves an automatic BCS berth.
Zach Fraser completed 19 of 39 passes for 223 yards and had two interceptions returned for touchdowns. The redshirt senior had directed the Huskies to five straight victories after he was benched for three games. The late-season surge left Connecticut tied with West Virginia and Pittsburgh atop the Big East standings. The Huskies got the BCS berth because they had beaten those two teams.
The Sooners scored 10 straight points on Frey's second career kickoff return for a score and Dave Teggart's 38-yard field goal to slice the lead to 34-20 entering the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma went 88 yards in 10 plays and made it 41-20 when Jones threw five yards to Ryan Broyles for a touchdown. The Sooners made it a four-touchdown lead when Tony Jefferson picked off Frazer's pass and returned it 22 yards for a score with 2:40 to play.
Edsall was having none of the idea that the loss was a negative for the program he has headed for 12 years.
"We didn't win the game but there's nothing negative that comes from this," he said. "To be here and to compete the way these kids competed, I think that says it all."
He said he was proud of his players "for the way they've handled themselves in this position because, again, that's the hardest part is getting yourself in this position and to be one of the 10 teams competing in the BCS."
Edsall lamented the dropped passes and the failure of his team to convert many short-yardage situations.
"It is a game of inches," he said, "and we couldn't make enough of those inches today against an outstanding football team."
The Fiesta Bowl chose Connecticut because it had no choice. Since the Fiesta is host of the BCS championship game, it got last pick for the Fiesta game. Nobody had chosen Connecticut, which had an automatic berth, so the Huskies were headed to Arizona.
Wide receiver Kashif Moore wore No. 6 rather than his usual No. 82 in honor of slain teammate Jasper Howard, who was stabbed to death outside a campus dance in 2009. Edsall said he had asked Moore to wear Howard's number and the player readily agreed.
"It is good to honor a fallen teammate and brother of ours in Jasper Howard," Moore said. "This would have been his last game and I'm sure he would have shined."
(This version CORRECTS Corrects writethru sequence.)