There are five winless teams remaining in FBS football. That number is guaranteed to drop by one this weekend.
That’s because Georgia Southern (0-5) and Massachusetts (0-6) face one another in a 3:30 p.m. matchup at the Minutemen’s McGuirk Alumni Stadium. It will be Homecoming for UMass.
The other teams still looking for their first win are North Carolina-Charlotte, UTEP and Baylor. The last time an FBS team had a winless season was in 2015 when Central Florida and Kansas failed to post a win.
The Eagles are seeking to avoid their second straight losing season which would be a first in the modern era. Georgia Southern has lost 10 straight non-conference road games since beating Florida, 26-20, to end the 2013 season.
This will be the third all-time meeting between the GS and the Minutemen, but unlike the first two there will be nothing other than pride on the line. UMaass is a seven-point favorite.
The first meeting between the two teams was for the FCS national championship in 1997. The Minutemen won a wild 55-43 game in Chattanooga, Tn. The following year the two met in Statesboro in an FCS quarterfinal game with the Eagles prevailing 38-21.
The UMass coach in those two games was Mark Whipple who left following the 2007 season only to return three years ago in an attempt to revive the school’s sagging football fortunes.
The Minutemen, now an independent, moved up to the FBS ranks in 2012 when they joined the Mid-American Conference. It has not been an easy transition as they have gone 10-57.
Of the group of five winless teams UMass is conceivably the best of the bunch. All of its losses have been by 10 or fewer points. The most impressive was a 17-13 loss at Tennessee.
This will be the Minutemen’s first game in three weeks as they have had their schedule interrupted by Hurricane Irma and a scheduled open date.
Offense has not been a problem for UMass as evidenced by their last game, a 58-50 loss to Ohio University in which quarterback Andrew Ford threw for 393 of his team’s 403 yards.
Ford will be the equal of any quarterback the Eagles will face this season, and he has a talented trio of receivers and a veteran running back who is chasing some school history, too.
Whipple, while disappointed with the record, believes his team is on the verge of putting it all together for four quarters. The loss to Ohio was especially frustrating as he believes his team missed out on some golden opportunities.
“I want to win, and our guys want to win,” Whipple said. “We’re putting plays together and players in position.
“The effort’s there,” Whipple said. “We just didn’t play well on defense, but it was things we can get fixed. The same on offense. We had some miscommunication, and those things are correctable.”
“Against Ohio I liked the way our guys kept playing. We just needed to make a play on defense and in general. We were right there on so many plays. Defense can change a game quicker than offense.”
In only 17 games Fordhas passed for 4,388 yards and 38 touchdowns which is fifth on the school’s all-time list. He has completed 355-of-576 passes, and this season is 133-of-211 for 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions, both coming off tipped balls.
Marquis Young has rushed for 2,215 yards in his career, and needs only 14 to move into sixth-place on the career list.
Tight end Adam Breneman has 36 catches for 500 yards this season, and in 17 career games has 106 for 1,308 yards and 16 touchdowns. Wide receiver Andy Isabell has 1,196 yards receiving, 395 this season, and wide receiver Sadiq Palmer has 331 yards this season.