clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Massachusetts Minutemen vs. Florida International Golden Panthers football preview

UMass has yet to win a non-conference game. Depending on where you look, they may be favored. Will the Minutemen make history?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Many feel that this weekends game against Florida International is a must-win game for the Minutemen. Here's Dan Malone. Here's Dan Malone again, stressing the point. Here's the Daily Collegian. Here's Conrad Twitty. It's easy to see why it's being written so much. UMass has now lost three straight in a season where expectations were high. Notre Dame handed the Minutemen the beating many expected (though they were merciful for the first 27 or so minutes). The Temple game, where UMass grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory, was a win few expected anyway. The real gut check was the first game of the season, where many in Massachusetts expected the Minutemen to win.

Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Win Probability Proj. W-L Proj. Margin Proj. Score Cumulative Proj. Wins
3-Oct Florida International 94 68% W 8.1 35.2 - 27.2 0.68
10-Oct at Bowling Green 67 27% L -10.8 31.7 - 42.5 0.94
17-Oct Kent State 97 70% W 9.3 26.5 - 17.3 1.65
24-Oct Toledo 49 32% L -8.1 24.7 - 32.8 1.97
31-Oct at Ball State 77 37% L -5.6 32.0 - 37.5 2.34
7-Nov Akron 103 67% W 7.7 34.3 - 26.6 3.01
14-Nov at Eastern Michigan 119 63% W 5.6 39.4 - 33.8 3.64
21-Nov Miami-OH 122 81% W 15.3 38.6 - 23.2 4.45
27-Nov at Buffalo 95 59% W 3.9 33.6 - 29.8 5.04

Those are our in-house projections for UMass rest of season, as of today. These could be placed on the optimistic end of the spectrum, as it gives the Minutemen six wins rest of season, if they win everything they are favored in (their projected wins is five, because you don't win every game you're favored in). At six wins, none against Bowling Green, odds are the Minutemen will not get that coveted bowl invite, nor a trip to Detroit.

Date Opponent Win Probability OPP FPI (Rk)
3-Oct Florida International 47% -5.7 (90)
10-Oct at Bowling Green 19% -1.3 (75)
17-Oct Kent State 64% -12.2 (113)
24-Oct Toledo 16% 6.4 (49)
31-Oct at Ball State 25% -4.3 (86)
7-Nov Akron 57% -9.5 (105)
14-Nov at Eastern Michigan 64% -18.1 (122)
21-Nov Miami-OH 81% -18.8 (125)
27-Nov at Buffalo 35% -7.8 (99)

ESPN takes the role of glass half empty, having UMass favored in just four games. While four wins is an improvement for the Minutemen, it isn't the season many dreamed of. I said it in my preview, the Colorado game was the lynch pin for seven wins, and the first eight games of the season were rough. Without Colorado, you're looking at possibly one win in the first four and one win in the second four before a big finish. Well, the Minutemen are without Colorado, so many are calling this FIU game a must win. At this rate though, the Minutemen will have to upset one of Bowling Green, Toledo or Ball State, which both projection systems aren't high on.

Looking back, you may call this game one we shouldn't have let get away should the Minutemen lose, or the beginning of the turn around if they win. More realistically, stealing a MAC win is the "must-win" game, as a FIU win is meaningless without it (we'd be at only six wins, which won't get us to a bowl). And, of course, if we do steal that win, then the Minutemen might be headed to Detroit, where anything can happen.

If anything, the importance of a win at FIU isn't for the standings, its for crowd engagement, this is UMass's first game in Amherst this season, the student body will be there in full, and its a chance to remind the fans that UMass football does matter. In terms of standings, though, FIU is just another game.

UMass Needs To:

Cut down on opponents third down conversions, get Blake Frohnapfel into a rhythm, make FIU get acquainted to Tajae Sharpe, stop making special teams mistakes.

Final Score Prediction:

UMass 30, FIU 24