The Massachusetts Minutemen have faced several challenging games against Power 5 opponents since their move to FBS for the 2012 season. They've traveled to Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas State, and Penn State among others. But they've never faced a test quite like the one this Saturday when they travel to South Bend to take on the #6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In what might be described as the biggest game in UMass' history, the Minutemen will have to do everything they can to stay competitive in a match-up with one of the nation's best all-around teams in the Irish. UMass rarely gets to play on the national stage, so the opportunity to plant their flag to a nationwide audience is very important for the growth of the program in FBS.
UMass also has a puncher's chance in a game like this one, if Notre Dame suffers from the "Triple-Option Hangover" after beating then-#14 Georgia Tech and gets caught up looking past the Minutemen to a road tilt with #11 Clemson next weekend. It's unlikely the Minutemen channel Buster Douglas here, but with UMass' offensive weapons and Notre Dame's litany of season-ending injuries, there is a sliver of hope.
Quick Game Info
Game location, time: Saturday, September 26 at 3:40 p.m. EST
Location: Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN.
TV: The game will be broadcast live nationally on NBC.
Radio: The game can be heard on the radio in Massachusetts and New England at 560 AM WHYN (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. The Minutemen are not on 105.5 FM in Western Mass due to a conflict on WEEI with the Red Sox.
Players to Watch
Blake Frohnapfel (QB, UMass) - Frohnapfel had a very difficult start to the season in Colorado against the Buffaloes, and followed that up with a much stronger performance at home vs Temple. In both games however he had some struggles with overthrows and threw an interception at the most inopportune time. The Notre Dame secondary will be the best he's ever faced, so he'll need his decision-making and accuracy at their peak to contend with what he'll see on Saturday.
UMass' Offensive Line (OL, UMass) - The guys in the trenches for UMass are a veteran unit with good experience, but just like every other Minuteman they've never faced a challenge like the one Notre Dame and their front seven will present. They will need to be on their game from the opening kick to keep Frohnapfel upright and allow him time to make his throws downfield. UMass has one of the worst running games in FBS, and that is not going to improve against the Irish, so it should be all about pass protection and making sure their QB stays healthy.
C.J. Prosise (RB, Notre Dame) - UMass was quite publicly gashed by Colorado on the ground in their opening game of the season to the tune of nearly 400 yards. The defense responded last week by holding Temple's Jahad Thomas, arguably the best back in the AAC, to 66 yards on 25 carries. It will take a similar effort to slow down Prosise, who to ran over Georgia Tech for 198 yards last Saturday. Prosise is extremely dangerous, and UMass cannot afford to play the way they did against Colorado or he may top his numbers from last weekend. The positive is that Thomas was coming off a near 200-yard performance of his own against Cincinnati, so the Minutemen have shown they can step up.
DeShone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame) - When Malik Zaire went down for the season with an ankle injury, there was obvious concern about who would step in and lead the Irish from the QB spot. Kizer came in against Georgia Tech and performed very well, going 21/30 for 242/1/1. If he can continue with solid performances such as that, Notre Dame's College Football Playoff hopes will remain alive. He also should get the chance to be more active in this game against the Minutemen.