The Record: 1-1
The Streak: L1
The 12-Game Pace: 6-6
UMass football looks to bounce back against Georgia Southern
On Saturday, the Massachusetts football season keeps rolling on as the Minutemen face another road contest against the Georgia Southern Eagles. This game is coming off a brutal road loss to the Eagles from Boston College, where three turnovers and lackluster defense led the Minutemen to a 55-21 loss.
Both teams are very new to FBS play after both having success in the FCS. UMass joined in 2013, while Georgia Southern joined in 2014. The teams have history in the past, when the Minutemen bested the Eagles in the 1997 FCS National Championship. However, both teams are coming off disappointing seasons, with the Eagles finishing 2-10 and the Minutemen finishing 4-8.
Despite the difficult blowout loss the Minutemen took last week, they are hoping to shake it off against a Georgia Southern team that has a sluggish rush defense, letting up 5.2 yards per carry in 2017. UMass should look to give a large workload to last year’s leading rusher, senior Marquis Young (982 yards in 2017) to exploit that Georgia Southern weakness.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are coming off an impressive 37-6 win over South Carolina State. Quarterback Shai Werts gave the Bulldogs defense problems all game, especially on the ground where he rushed for 163 yards. However, South Carolina State is an FCS team, and I expect the UMass defense to not allow Werts to explode again.
While Boston College is clearly on a different level than Georgia Southern, UMass will not win if they do not put up a better performance than what they did in Chestnut Hill. Quite simply, quarterback Andrew Ford needs to be better. Last week Ford only completed 50 percent of his passes and the offense had several costly turnovers that were not wasted by the opposition.
These two teams are very evenly matched. If neither team blunders, I think it will be less than a score separating the Minutemen and Eagles on Saturday. Last season, UMass lost a lot of close games against solid opponents. This time, however, I think the tables have turned and UMass wins it in a nail-biter. UMass 31, Georgia Southern 28.
Today’s game is slatted for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia. It can be seen on ESPN+.