Date: Saturday, Sept. 29
Kickoff Time: 2 p.m. ET
Location: Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio
Watch it here: ESPN3
Line: Ohio -13.5, O/U: 69.5
Series: Ohio 3-0
UMass key: Light up the scoreboard
More than 1,000 yards and 108 points of offensive turned last year's Ohio-UMass contest into a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare.
And with many key players from last year's track meet returning, expect them to get next to no sleep this week.
The 58-50 Ohio victory last year sent UMass to their sixth straight loss to open the season. The loss marked the unofficial low point for the Minutemen, who would finally find their groove in the games that followed.
The Minutemen enter the 2018 showdown at 2-3 with a chance to reach .500 at the halfway mark of the season. Despite three straight blowout losses on the road, a win Saturday would get UMass the visiting win they covet to help get them bowl eligible.
The way to get there is to open up the playbook.
Michael Curtis is once again the expected starter. If he can find Andy Isabella and get him going early, opportunities for the remainder of the receiving corps will come.’
UMass must take advantage and move the ball. After all, 50 points was not good enough last year.
Bobcats seeking bounce-back
Last year, the UMass win was just another log on the Bobcat fireplace that burned all the way through a Bahamas Bowl win.
Ohio was 4-1 and just kept chugging along.
This year, Ohio enters 1-2 and looking for some traction following a blown fourth quarter lead against Cincinnati. The Bobcat defense allowed touchdowns on Cincinnati’s final three full drives and had the ball on the Bearcat 1-yard-line, but two plays later threw a game-clinching interception.
Ohio’s lone win against FCS squad Howard in a game they trailed 22-17 at halftime.
Ohio, however, have had the Minutemen’s number last year and in two meetings when UMass was a member of the MAC. The Bobcat Faithful are hoping the sight of their maroon-and-white opponents will jump start their momentum heading into conference play.
When attacking Minutemen, opponents will surely look to the ground first. That means plenty of A.J. Ouellette, who gashed UMass for 125 yards and a touchdown rushing in the last meeting. It also means the UMass defense needing to find an answer for quarterback Nathan Rourke, who was responsible for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, if Ohio can keep contain on Marquis Young and apply early pressure on likely starter Curtis, the road woes may creep into the collective heads of the Minutemen, who have been outscored 152-58 away from McGuirk.
It’s the type of score destined to sit on the whiteboards of both Frank Solich and Mark Whipple all week. The defenses for both teams have to be exhausted listening to how wonderful the offense and how woeful the defense played in 2017.
Expect points, but more pride on display for these tormented defenses.
Home field - or lack thereof - has been a huge factor. Expect some drama in this one, but ultimately, the Bobcats run just enough to ice this one.