The Massachusetts Minutemen have finished the toughest part of their 2015 non-conference schedule after suffering a 62-27 defeat at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last Saturday. They have come though mostly healthy and with the knowledge that if they execute their game plan, they are no longer a team that does not belong on the same field as the FBS powers.
The unfortunate part is that the Minutemen are currently 0-3, and while knowing you can contend is fine, knowing you can win is better. UMass faces what is a must-win game against the Florida International University Golden Panthers this Saturday, and it will be no easy task.
The Golden Panthers are 2-2 entering Saturday's game, 0-1 in Conference USA play, with victories over Central Florida and FCS North Carolina Central. They dropped their most recent contest, which was also their C-USA opener, 27-17 to Louisiana Tech last Saturday.
Fortunately for UMass this game is at their true home stadium on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, which should give them a boost. The UMass athletic administration is working hard to help #FillMcGuirk and give the Minutemen a real home-field advantage. This match-up between UMass and FIU should be a very exciting, very close game.
Quick Game Info
Game location, time: Saturday, October 3rd at 3:00 p.m. EST
Location: Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst, Massachusetts.
TV: The game be broadcast live on ESPN3. Click here to watch.
Radio: The game can be heard on the radio in Massachusetts and New England at 105.5 FM WEEI (Springfield/Amherst), 95.9 FM WATD (South Shore), 1200 AM WXKS (Boston, Manchester, Providence), and 830 AM WCRN (Worcester). You can stream the audio here if you're outside Massachusetts, or you can download the Tune-In Radio App for mobile listening.
Players to Watch
Blake Frohnapfel (QB, UMass) - Frohnapfel has been up and down to start 2015, and the lack of consistency has hindered the Minutemen's chances in games. He can look like a future NFL on one drive, then miss a couple of wide open receivers on the next drive. Look for Frohnapfel to have a big game against FIU on Saturday though, as he knows just as well as his teammates that this is a game that the Minutemen must win.
Tajae Sharpe (WR, UMass) - If it seems like Tajae Sharpe is always a player to watch for the Minutemen, that's because he is. He's one of (if not the best) receivers in the MAC, and will certainly be playing on Sundays this time next year. But this year, despite his strong start, he's yet to find the end zone, a fact that is certainly bothering him. Look for that drought to end against FIU, and perhaps more than once.
Alex McGough (QB, FIU) - McGough has had a great start to the season, and his efficiency at the QB position has helped alleviate one of the biggest concerns for the Panthers entering this year. He's already thrown for 1,014 yards, 9 TDs and only 2 INTs, along with completing his passes at a 64.5% clip. Those are very impressive numbers through 4 games, and the Minutemen will need to make sure he doesn't get comfortable in the pocket.
Thomas Owens (WR, FIU) -When McGough is looking to throw, his favorite target is the sophomore WR Owens, who has reeled in 26 catches this season for 329 yards and 4 TDs. Expect Owens to see #4 for the Minutemen, CB Randall Jette, lined up across from him all day on Saturday. That is a match-up that Jette must win for the Minutemen.