A little over a week ago, UMass added to its small slate and scheduled Florida Atlantic for a November 20th face off. CBS Sports Network will broadcast the game in prime time This only UMass’ fourth game of the year, and the Minutemen have lost their first two games by a combined score of 92-10.
Last week, against Marshall, the Minutemen offense showed life, but otherwise stayed true to form in the 51-10 loss. With a bye week to prepare, they have a chance to continue their somewhat upward trajectory.
Florida Atlantic’s strength lays in their defense, as they’ve only allowed 52 points in four games, an average of 13 per game. However, their offense leaves much to be desired averaging 20.4 points a game, and only 16 points per game before their 38 point explosion in the Shula Bowl.
While the odds are still against the Minutemen, they still have a chance to look respectable in a rare national TV appearance. Georgia Southern and Marshall, UMass’ first two opponents were arguably better teams than the Owls. While still blown out by Marshall, the Minutemen showed improvement from their 41-0 shellacking at the hands of Georgia Southern.
This weeknight exposure is rare for UMass. Despite being a MAC member from 2012-2015, they hardly got a taste of the weeknight #MACtion. This was in large part to them playing all of their home slate at Gillette from 2012-2013 and half of their slate from 2014-2016.
In all, the Minutemen have played on prime-time on a weeknight six times. Four of those appearances have been on linear TV, with two being on ESPNU, one on the Big Ten Network and another on Big East syndication. The other two were on CUSA.tv and ESPN3. In such games, the Minutemen have 1-5 record. A national TV appearance is rare for the Minutemen, which made their loss to Georgia Southern on ESPN2 a mixed blessing.
The slate is packed on that night, with four games occurring, but the attractiveness of the other early night games on could bring eyes to UMass. The Minutemen and Owls compete with a game between 1-6 schools in Louisville and Syracuse, as well as a game between 2-1 Purdue and 1-3 Minnesota that could become a blowout early.
At 9:30, 0-3 New Mexico plays 1-2 Air Force, but viewers on the East Coast will likely stay with the earlier games until they end. All of this works together with interest in the Boston and Miami TV markets heading into this game for exposure.
While it may not seem like it, UMass has a golden opportunity in this strange pandemic season for exposure for their program. If they pull the upset, despite being a 31-point underdog, it could provide enough momentum for Walt Bell to get the Minutemen in the right direction. With that being said, this Friday, we are all Minutemen fans.