Why UConn at UMass could be the worst game of this


Resistible Connecticut meets movable Massachusetts on Saturday in the worst game of this or any season of college football. Maybe it’s just the worst match since Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt by the Huskies.

On paper, the Huskies and Minutemen represent a matchup that can only be loved by family members, degenerate gamblers and sickos rubbernecking the Football Bowl Subdivision equivalent of a 10-car pileup.

But it can be appreciated by almost anyone for the magnitude of what is set to unfold at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium: On the opposite end of the spectrum from the projected SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia, the pairing of the Huskies and Minutemen is a loser-take-all battle for the bottom.

More than a month into this season, the only thing that’s certain is that UConn and UMass represent the worst of the worst. The Crimson Tide has surged ahead of the pack but the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are not the only teams in contention for last place in FBS.

Akron (1-4)

While accurate to say that Akron already has matched its high for wins in a season under coach Tom Arth, it should be added that the Zips are 1-4 after going 1-17 in Arth’s first two years. Is that progress? Akron’s win is against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Bryant and the four losses are by a combined 140 points, including a 17-point loss to Ohio.

Arizona (0-4)

The Wildcats showed flashes of competitiveness against Brigham Young and Oregon but remain the only winless team in the Power Five. There’s also the matter of perhaps the worst loss of any team in the country: Arizona lost 21-19 to Northern Arizona, which has in turn lost to Sam Houston State, South Dakota and Northern Colorado.

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Arkansas State (1-4)

Traditionally one of the most consistent programs in the Group of Five, Arkansas State is off to a miserable start under first-year coach Butch Jones. Defensively, the Red Wolves have failed to hold five FBS opponents under 41 points and 540 yards of offense; in losses to Tulsa and Georgia Southern alone, ASU allowed more yardage (1,203) than Georgia, Wisconsin, South Alabama, San Diego State and Iowa State have all season.

Connecticut (0-6)

Losing to Vanderbilt hasn’t even been the low point of the Huskies’ season. That belongs to last month’s 38-28 loss to Holy Cross, which was followed two days later by coach Randy Edsall’s abrupt retirement. His second stint with the program wasn’t as successful as his previous. Credit where credit is due: UConn has remained close to Wyoming and the Commodores, which speaks well for interim coach Lou Spanos.

Florida International (1-4)

Last week’s 58-21 loss to rival Florida Atlantic makes it more and more likely that 2021 will be the program’s final year under coach Butch Davis, who led the Panthers to three straight bowl bids but has dropped 11 of his past 12 games. FIU is one of just four FBS teams allowing more than 500 yards per game, more than offsetting the production of an offense that ranks 32nd nationally in yards gained per play.

Louisiana-Monroe (2-2)

Every win should be cause for celebration after one of the worst years in FBS history: ULM did not hold a lead at any point during a miserable pandemic season. Although Terry Bowden is now the new coach, the team’s background numbers show that they are still among the worst in the country. The Warhawks rank 122nd in yards given up per play and are averaging an FBS-worst 3.3 yards per snap on offense.

Massachusetts (0-5)

The Minutemen have dropped 16 straight games, all by two or more touchdowns. This year’s team might be a little bit better: Boston College only won by 17 points and Eastern Michigan by 14, so there are some very, very subtle signs of improvement. UMass is an underdog against the Huskies at home, which speaks for themselves.

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New Mexico State (1-5)

We also have this to look forward to: New Mexico State playing host to UMass in the season finale. Five losses have been sandwiched by the Aggies against South Carolina State. There is a high chance that they will lose all five games, which includes trips to Alabama and Kentucky.

Ohio (1-4)

Ohio lost to Duquesne three weeks before beating Akron, which should help define where the Zips falls on the MAC and FBS ladder. It’s been a rough year for the Bobcats, who lost longtime coach Frank Solich to retirement late in the offseason and are headed for only the program’s second losing season sine 2006. Don’t be surprised if Ohio turns it around. With the abundance of East division teams that are mediocre or worse than Ohio, they could stack wins in conference play.

UNLV (0-5)

Perhaps the toughest schedule in the Group of Five has left UNLV as one of four winless teams in the FBS. The USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll ranked three opponents, Arizona State State, Iowa State, and Fresno State. Texas-San Antonio is the fourth FBS opponent and one of seven Group of Five unbeaten teams. Even the 35-33 loss to Eastern Washington to start the year is understandable: EWU is No. 4 in this week’s AFCA FCS Coaches’ Top 25 and one of four teams receiving first-place votes. UNLV is now in last place in Mountain West in yards per play and second in yards allowed per play.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

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