Indiana (1-0) at Massachusetts (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 8, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gillette Stadium (35,000) -- Foxborough, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Indiana 1-0, UMass 0-0. Away Record: Indiana 0-0, UMass 0-1. Neutral Record: Indiana 0-0, UMass 0-0. Conference Record: Indiana 0-0, UMass 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Two teams coming off differing results in rivalry games will meet up when the Indiana Hoosiers travel to Foxborough to face off with Massachusetts in the Minutemen's home opener.
It was a Hoosier State showdown for Indiana in its season-opener last week against Indiana State and it was the Hoosiers who came out on top with a 24-17 victory. The Hoosiers have now matched their entire win total for the 2011 season when they managed just one win in 12 games. The only victory Indiana managed last season also came against an FCS opponent as the Hoosiers posted a 38-21 win at home against South Carolina State.
Massachusetts was unable to really enjoy its debut as an FBS program for more than a few minutes, as the Minutemen were routed 37-0 by former Yankee Conference rival Connecticut. The loss extended the Minutemen's current losing streak to four games which dates back to last season when the squad finished 5-6 in its final season at the FCS level.
This marks the first time these two squads have met on the gridiron.
After only averaging 360.4 yards per game last season (83rd nationally), Indiana was a bit more effective offensively last weekend, totaling 451 yards on the day.
Leading the charge for the Hoosiers was sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson, who threw for a career-high 280 yards, while completing an impressive 26-of-36 pass attempts. Those completions included a 71-yard scoring strike to Shane Wynn for Indiana's first score of the season. It was the first time the Hoosiers have had a reception of at least 70 yards since 2008. Roberson also ran for 19 yards and a score. The big gain made up the majority of Wynn's career performance which included personal bests in receptions (six) and yards (95).
Under second-year coach Kevin Wilson the offense has normally relied heavily on the running game which remained true against Indiana State. The Hoosiers rushed the ball 47 times for 178 yards and two scores. Indiana averaged 161.0 yards per game on the ground during Wilson's first season and look to continue the trend this season. D'Angelo Roberts was the primary ball carrier with 22 attempts for 73 yards.
The defensive side of the ball had less to be excited about after allowing Indiana State, a team that went 6-5 last season, to put up 387 total yards and remain within striking distance throughout. In fact the Sycamores were the first team to get on the scoreboard with a touchdown early in the first quarter. The unit did shore up on third down, holding Indiana State to a 3-for-12 performance on third down conversions.
The Hoosiers did create pressure throughout the game, totaling five sacks, led by defensive tackle Larry Black's two. Drew Hardin led the team with eight total tackles and also recovered a fumble.
There wasn't a whole lot to cheer about offensively for UMass in its FBS opener. The Minutemen managed only 59 total yards and three first downs against a tough UConn defense and wound up going scoreless for the first time since 1995. UMass couldn't get anything going, especially on the ground with the squad rushing for only three yards. Pittsburgh-transfer Chris Burns led the team with 26 yards on 11 carries but three different ball carriers had rushing totals of less than zero.
With returning starter Kellen Pagel sidelined with a concussion, freshman Mike Wegzyn got the start at quarterback. His first start didn't go particularly well, as he completed 9-of-22 pass attempts for 56 yards and an interception.
Although the 37 points might imply otherwise, the UMass defense put forth a solid effort. Connecticut had 372 total yards in the game but also scored a touchdown on defense and special teams which cannot be blamed on the Minutemen's defensive unit.
UMass was able to get into the backfield often in the game to bust up running plays and held Lyle McCombs, the second leading rusher in the Big East last season to a 3.9 yards-per-carry average and 89 yards total. Last season UMass gave up 156.6 yards per game on the ground. The Minutemen also had four tackles for loss and were led by Perry McIntyre, who racked up 12 tackles in the game.
Perhaps the biggest highlight for the Minutemen also came from the defense. In the first quarter, UConn quarterback threw a pass down the right sideline that was tipped back in bounds by cornerback Darren Thellen and then intercepted by linebacker Tom Brandt.
Indiana may not be a powerhouse like some of its brethren in the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers will not need to be against a UMass team that is still finding its FBS bearings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana 20, Massachusetts 7
09/05 10:35:47 ET