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)|
|31-Oct||at Ball State||25%||-4.3 (86)|
|14-Nov||at Eastern Michigan||64%||-18.1 (122)|
|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