Vanderbilt looks to improve to 4-4 on their 2012 season this Saturday, but a struggling Massachusetts team will stand in their way. The Minutemen haven't had much success in their first season as a member of the FBS, and that's been reflected in their 0-7 record. However, they've shown flashes of improvement as the season has worn on. Four weeks ago, the fledgling team pushed 24th ranked Ohio to the limit, taking a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter before falling 34-37.
Can the Minutemen put up another valiant performance in Nashville? They'll be 32.5 point underdogs on the road, and they'll be playing against a team defense that is a full standard deviation better than what they've seen in their MAC opponents this year. The odds are certainly stacked against the Minutemen, but Vanderbilt is no stranger to surprising upsets at home.
To learn more about this week's opponent, I got in touch with Minuteman expert UMass74, who runs the UMass Football Blog. He gave me some excellent in-depth answers about a team that has slipped under the radar for many Commodore fans, and we're in his debt for the help. His answers are below, but if you want to know more about UMass football, be sure to check out his site.
1. UMass is having a rough transition to FBS football this season. Did Minutemen fans anticipate this level of struggle in 2012?
Yes and no. We had been a .500 team in FCS for four years. The Minutemen closed 2011 with three straight losses. We were not at the level of the UMass teams that under and played for the FCS National Championship. Everybody knew we would be out gunned by the four BCS teams this year, and the top level of the MAC was also going to be a challenge. Our schedule is really front-loaded. We have yet to play a MAC team with a losing record. Our best chances are against
Yes, we moved to FBS in a year when the cupboard was bare on offense. Our best returning skill player on offense was TE He has missed the last two games due to injury. UMass best OL and WR will be back from a two-game academic suspension. Williams had three TD's against
is a RS Freshman who had not played a down prior to this year. He has been up and down. He looked overwhelmed in the UConn and
Wegzyn is a big kid at 6-5 220. He not a pull-it-down and run for forty yards kind of a QB. He is quick enough and strong enough so if Vanderbilt just does an all-out rush, he'll run 6 to 10 yards and hook slide for a first down.
UMass has played two excellent games on defense this year against UConn and
Win a couple! We get another possible Bowl Team in
We're not ready yet for a bowl-level SEC team. UMass has had only one FBS recruiting class (abet a pretty good one by our standards). We are only dressing about 85 players for home games. UMass is a step up from Tennessee Tech, but the Minutemen should be a four-TD underdog. I'll say Commodores 48-UMass 14.