|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Coming off a bye week, the #4/4 Minutemen are looking to bounce back with a home win over Villanova, after suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of FBS powerhouse #4 Boston College. The 4-2 Wildcats (2-1 in the CAA) are making their first trip to Amherst since 2002. They are looking to extend their winning streak to four with a victory over the 4-1 Minutemen (2-0 in the CAA).
It will be a tough feat to accomplish. McGuirk Alumni Stadium has turned into a Lambeau or Gillette Stadium for the Minutemen, posting a home record of 45-11 over the past seven seasons. Last season, UMass was perfect at home, going 8-0, breaking a school record.
UMass Defense vs. Villanova Offense
Just like the two last seasons, UMass still brings one of the toughest defenses to the table. Last season they were ranked first for most of the season in scoring defense, allowing only 13.3 points per game. UMass finished fifth overall following their loss to Appalachian State where they gave up 28 points in the NCAA Championship. They will need to be more like the defense from the regular season and not the one who played in the championship.
Villanova is coming off a win where they scored 63 points at home against William & Mary. This is an obvious point, but if the UMass D doesn’t get some three-and-outs, it might be a long day for the UMass offense to try and compete with the offensive onslaught of the Wildcats.
While Wildcats have proven they can put up some gaudy numbers, the Minutemen will not lose sight of their goal of returning to the NCAA Championship this season. QB Liam Coen will continue to re-write the UMass record book and this should be another home win for the Minutemen.
Outcome: Minutemen by 20.
(Sidenote: This Saturday will also be Band Day where the Minuteman Marching Band hosts 3,000 elementary, middle and high school students to perform with them. It’s an amazing sight to behold on the field.)