The Massachusetts Minutemen really extended themselves in the process of winning against Liberty at home last week, so there may be some concern as to whether they'll have something left in the tank.
But they better, as they are taking on one of the toughest foes they have on this schedule. It's another independent - the BYU Cougars - who has spent a brief amount of time in the nation's top 25 this season.
BYU brings a top-level defense to the table, and UMass won't be operating with record-setting quarterback Andrew Ford any more this season.
The action takes place at high noon (Eastern time) on Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.
TV: BYU.tv / NESN, Noon ET. LINE: BYU -14
ABOUT BYU: BYU got off to a rough start last Saturday, falling behind Boise State 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. And they just didn't have enough to come back on the Blue Carpet and didn't manage the clock all that well in the final stages either. The 21-16 loss was a disappointment, but it was a pointspread cover, and the defensive unit stood out, allowing just 327 yards, with Brett Rypien throwing for only six yards an attempt. BYU freshman Zack Wilson, making only his second collegiate start, threw for 252 yards and hit ten different receivers. Still, there is no offensive bonanza going on,. with 22 points over the last two games. The Cougars (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) languish at 118th in the national rankings for Total Offense, and they have been awful at converting third downs (33%); in fact, only nine teams in the country have been less proficient. But there is the possibility for uptick here; Wilson is 64% accurate, but the big difference between him and previous starter Tanner Mangum is that while Mangum only averaged 5.7 yards an attempt, Wilson's per-attempt average is 8.25 yards. So he can get it further down the field, which is what the offensive staff was looking for. And they will be facing a "yielding" defense in UMass. The pressure BYU has been able to get on the quarterback has been something of a downer for head coach Kelani Sitake, who was used to aggressive pass rushes when he was the offensive coordinator at Utah. The Cougars have only 14 sacks, which is 100th in the country.
ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS: Well, UMass (4-6 SU & ATS) was engaged in a thriller last week, and after three overtimes they emerged with a 62-59 win over Liberty, a team that had earlier pulled off a nice upset over Troy. Quarterback Ross Comis, the fifth-year senior out of Weirton, WV, has had to take the reins in place of Andrew Ford, who is out for the year, and he had 540 yards through the air. That included connections with Andy Isabella that added up to 303 yards, with TD's of 89 and 61 yards. Isabella went into the game as the nation's leader in receiving yards, and needless to say, he lengthened his lead. He is now 218 yards ahead of Texas Tech's Antoine Wesley. And he has had to work with different quarterbacks, as Ford was in and out of the lineup. This is obviously a great offensive concept from head coach Mark Whipple, who has been very successful at UMass at the Division I-AA (FCS) level and has steered many offenses in college and pro football. They're 26th in the nation in Total Offense (457.6 ypg). But they're allowing 473 yards per contest, so they're just 119th in Total Defense. Each of their six losses this season have been by double digits.
1. BYU will be the third different opponent UMass has faced this season that has been in the national rankings at one time or another this year. BYU made it into the Associated Press Top 25 after upsetting Wisconsin. Boston College and South Florida are the other teams who have been ranked.
2. These teams played last season, and UMass beat BYU 16-10 in Provo, in a game that produced just 598 total yards between the two teams.
3. This game is being played at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. BYU will be the visitor in next year's meeting as well, but that game will be at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst.
PREDICTION: BYU 37, UMass 27 Bet Now