While the vast majority of Mid-American Conference teams head into conference play this weekend, UMass has one more conference opponent to tackle before heading into its final MAC slate.
The Florida International Golden Panthers will be the third straight "brand new" (as in never previously played) opponent for the Minutemen. FIU brings a 2-2 overall record (0-1 Conference-USA East) into Saturday's 3 p.m. contest at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
Notre Dame hosted the Minutemen last week and hung a 62-27 loss on its guests. Massachusetts stayed with the No. 6-ranked Irish until late in the second quarter.
Ater trailing 14-0, UMass got on the board with a big 83-yard run from Marquis Young. The PAT, however, was blocked.
Sekai Lindsay's one-yard run and a successful PAT pulled UMass within one point. After Notre scored it's third TD of the day, the Minutemen responded with Jamal Wilson's one-yard run to again pull within a single point at 21-20 with 6:44 left in the second stanza.
That proved to be the high water mark for UMass. The Fighting Irish tallied two touchdowns before the half, three more in the third period and one final TD at 8:34 of the fourth quarter.
Shakur Newsmith hauled in a 33-yard strike from Ross Comis to give UMass its final points of the contest. The freshman quarterback completed all eight of his passes, good for 69 yards and a score.
Starter Blake Frohnapfel connected on 20 of 40 for 233 yards with one interception in his time at the helm. UMass totaled 302 passing yards and added another 148 rushing yards with 29 carries. The ground game provided three of four TDs. Young led the way with 103 yards (83 with one play) on five carries. Wilson had 51 yards on seven rushes.
Ten different Minutemen caught passes. Tajae Shape's eight catches (83 yards), led the group. Michel Markin owned six receptions (46 yards).
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This week's UMass opponent brings a 2-2 record to the matchup, with both losses coming on the road.
Turnovers (3) played a part in the first loss as FIU blew a 22-19 fourth quarter lead at Indiana. The Hoosiers scored 17 unanswered points in the final 11:02. An interception and 96-yard return with 3:58 to go sealed the verdict.
Neither team had a turnover in FIU's other loss, a 27-17 setback at Louisiana Tech last week. Tech owned a 17-3 halftime advantage and was up 27-10 before the Golden Eagles added a touchdown with 3:50 remaining for the final score.
Louisiana Tech had 226 yards passing and another 246 rushing in the win. Florida International quarterback Alex McGough completed 29 of 44 for 263 yards with two TDs, one each to YaKeem Griner (7 catches, 64 yards) and Thomas Owels (4 catches, 43 yards). Alex Gardner led receivers with nine receptions for 70 yards. McGough has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,014 yards with nine TDs and two interceptions. He has a QB rating of 136.1.
FIU got little out of the rushing game -- 45 yards on 23 carries. However, it is averaging 136.8 ypg on the campaign.
To date, FIU averages 23.2 ppg, while UMass is at 21.3 ppg.
- Each of the Minutemen's 10 scoring drives this season have been from 50 yards or more. UMass took the long road on 40 of 49 scoring drives last year, including a 99-yard trip against Miami (OH) that took 3:17 on the clock.
- UMass ranks last among MAC teams in scoring defense, yielding an average of 45.0 ppg. It is also last in total defense, allowing 565.7 ypg.
- UMass has attempted (and converted) just one field goal in 2015.
- UMass is third among MAC teams in pass yard average per game (315.0) and is fourth in total offense (428.3 ypg).
- Senior receiver Tajae Sharpe's 10 rpg. is second among MAC receivers and third in NCAA FBS play.
- UMass is one of six teams nationally that will play 12 consecutive contests during the 2015 season. Colorado plays 13 consecutive games.
- Defensive back Khary Bailey-Smith is tied for fourth (MAC) in tackles (10.5 tpg). Linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox is tied for eighth (9.0 tpg).