- Associated Press - Sunday, December 5, 2010

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - The Fiesta Bowl missed its marquee matchup.

Left with little choice after the Orange Bowl took No. 5 Stanford, the Fiesta Bowl ended up selecting four-loss Connecticut to face Big 12 champion Oklahoma.

Instead of a showdown between two high-scoring offenses, it’ll be a traditional power playing New Year’s Day against a school known more for its basketball teams than its upstart football program.

“We really look at the rankings and the process, so we totally understand why Stanford has the opportunity; they certainly earned it,” Fiesta Bowl chairman Duane Woods said Sunday after the announcement. “But we’re very happy with our selection.”

The Fiesta Bowl has a knack for getting must-watch matchups, from the top-me-I’ll-top-you game between Boise State and the Sooners in 2007 to last year’s BCS-busters matchup between the Broncos and TCU.

No. 25 UConn (8-4) doesn’t exactly fit that mold, a hoops power coming from the East Coast and a conference that had a so-so year.

The Huskies shared the Big East title with West Virginia and Pittsburgh, earning the automatic BCS nod through a tiebreaker. UConn closed out the regular season by beating South Florida Saturday night, but its list of losses includes Temple of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, 4-8 Rutgers and a shutout at the hands of 6-6 Louisville.

The Huskies are 26th in the BCS standings and 17-point underdogs for the game at the University of Phoenix Stadium, but they’re not apologizing for anything.

“Don’t get on UConn for what the system is,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “We happened to win the conference and we’re deserving to be there. We didn’t back our way into it. We won our way into it.”

Oklahoma is in familiar territory.

The Sooners (11-2) captured their seventh Big 12 title _ no conference rival comes close to that mark _ by rallying from a 17-point deficit to send Nebraska off to the Big Ten with a 23-20 loss in the Big 12 championship game Saturday night.

Oklahoma finished seventh in the final BCS standings and should be up for a return to the Fiesta Bowl, where there haven’t been too many fond memories.

In the 2007 game, the Sooners were on the losing end of Boise State’s breakout moment, falling 43-42 as the Broncos hit them with a barrage of trick plays. Oklahoma was ranked third and a big favorite the following year against West Virginia, only to be overrun 48-28.

“It’ll be motivation, that’s for sure,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.

This is a different year, though.

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