UMass-South Florida football game postponed; Minutemen to face FIU on Dec. 2

  • Marquis Young of UMass, second from left, runs for a gain as Jordan Young, of Old Dominion approaches, Saturday at McGuirk Stadium. UMass quarterback Andrew Ford, top, and Brennon Dingle watch the play. UMass’ game against South Florida on Oct. 14 has been postponed. UMass will instead play at Florida International on Dec. 2. The move was to accommodate American Athletic Conference rescheduling due to Hurricane Irma. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Thursday, September 14, 2017

PHILADELPHIA — Due to Hurricane Irma-related schedule changes, the UMass football team is losing a game against the best team on its slate to face a familiar opponent that the Minutemen have dominated in recent years.

UMass’ Oct. 14 game against South Florida has been cancelled for 2017 and the Minutemen will now face Florida International on Dec. 2.

Pushing back the game with USF to either 2022 or 2023 allows the Bulls to play a conference game against UConn. The move is one of several throughout the American Athletic Conference, which made them to protect an even conference schedule after league games were cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.

The No. 22-ranked Bulls were, at least on paper, the best team the Minutemen were scheduled to face in 2017. FIU, which had to cancel a game against Indiana, is, at least on paper, the worst team UMass will face.

The Golden Panthers are ranked No. 127 (out of 130) in ESPN’s Football Power Index, 10 spots behind UMass. FIU is 1-1. It barely beat Alcorn State, an FCS school, and was hammered 61-17 by Central Florida.

UMass beat FIU 21-13 in 2016 and 24-14 in 2015. Both games were played in Amherst.

The Dec. 2 game will be postponed to another season if FIU wins the Conference USA East and earns a spot in that league’s championship.

UMass now has the first two weeks of October off, giving the Minutemen two weeks to prepare for their Oct. 21 game against Georgia Southern following their Sept. 30 game vs. Ohio University.

The change extends UMass’ season by two weeks. The Minutemen have a bye on the last week of the regular season. Unless their fortunes did an about face and they won enough games to be bowl eligible, the players were headed home for Thanksgiving. Now they’ll remain on campus.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage