It wasn’t all that long ago when UMass was part of the Mid-American Conference. A football-only membership, however, came to an end following the 2015 season, when the school declined to become a full-MAC sports member.
The Minutemen remain an independent at this point, popping up on a variety of schedules. Last week they were at Tennessee. This week, they host Ohio, which is . . .
UMass is still looking for its first victory of 2017, although the coach Mark Whipple’s 0-5 squad has been knocking at the door. The largest opponent victory was by 10 points (twice), and the margin was a mere four points in last week’s 17-13 Tennessee win in Knoxville.
Saturday, Sept. 30 -- 3:30 p.m. ET
Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium -- Amherst, MA
TV: Eleven Sports
● Neither team scored points in the first or fourth quarters of Tennessee’s victory over UMass last week. The Minutemen pulled to within four on a 13-yard pass from Andrew Ford to Sadiq Palmer with 2:51 left in the third period, but they could the visitors could not get any closer. Ross Comis provided the only other UMass score with a five-yard second period run. The PAT failed.
● UMass has converted 13 of 14 PAT kicks on the year, but has missed all four field goal tries.
● Ford, a junior, has completed 101 of 157 pass attempts (64.3%), good for 1,333 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. That interception came on his first pass attempt of the season and was a tipped ball.”
● Junior Marquis Young (6-1, 215) leads the team with 74 carries for 301 yards with four TDs. He also owns 14 receptions for another 91 yards.
● The trio of Adam Breneman (24/369), Andy Isabella (23/352) and Sadiq Palmer (20/282) have combined for 67 receptions, 1003 yards and four of seven UMass passing TDs.
● The projected UMass starting offensive line averages 324.0 pounds. All stand at least 6-4 and weigh at least 315.
Ray Thomas-Ishman dropped 42 pounds heading into his sophomore season and is now at 350 pounds.
● The UMass defense has 23.0 tackles for loss over the last two games, with 11.0 at Temple and 12.0 at Tennessee.
● Ohio is 2-0 in meetings with UMass.
● The Bobcats rank second among MAC teams in total offense with an average of 37.2 ppg. Only Toledo (42 ppg) is higher. But while UT allows 35. ppg., Ohio is five spots higher (fifth) with a 23.3 ppg average on defense.
● The ‘Cats are particularly efficient with the running game, ranking second (MAC) in rushing offense (197.0 ypg) and rushing defense (115.8 ypg).
● While OU is seventh in pass offense, it is second (MAC) in pass efficiency.
● Although hit by graduation, the Bobcats are still able to generate a good pass rush. They are second (MAC) in sacks (11).
● Ohio’s minus-2 in turnovers is 11th among MAC teams.
● Ohio tops the conference in red zone offense, scoring 16 TDs – 10 rushing and six through the air.
● A.J. Oullette is second among MAC rushers, averaging 85.8 ypg and 5.9 ypc. He was good for 145 yards on 26 carries last week against EMU.
● Sophomore QB Nathan Rourke has completed 52 of 81 pass attempts (64.2%) on the year. Four of his five TD tosses have come over the last two games, and he has yet to throw an interception.
● When Rourke took every snap at Eastern Michigan, it was the first time Ohio used just one quarterback for the entirely of a 2017 game.
● Freshman Cameron Odom is already an impact player. He caught the winning TD at Eastern Michigan and leads Bobcat receivers with 13 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Andrew Meyer (13/161), Brandan Cope (12/157) and Papi White (11/55) all have one TD and double figure receptions with at least 155 yards.
● Kicker Louie Zervos has made 16 of 18 PAT kicks and 5 of 6 field goals, with a long of 46.