UMass Notes: University releases start times, broadcast schedule for football games
University of Massachusetts tight end Rob Blanchflower carries the state flag as the team takes the field before their game against Buffalo in Foxborough on Saturday. Buffalo won 29-19. (AP Photo) Purchase photo reprints »
The University of Massachusetts football team’s game times and broadcast outlets became official Tuesday.
Most viewers will need a computer or an extended sports cable package to see most of the games.
The Minutemen will likely be on locally for their Nov. 2 game against Northern Illinois in Foxborough. The noon game is on ESPN’s regional package, making it available for a local outlet to pick up. ABC affiliates in eastern and western Massachusetts picked up UMass’ game at Miami (Ohio) last year that was on ESPN regional.
UMass’ noon season opener at Wisconsin on Aug. 31 is on the Big Ten Network, which is only available on premium sports packages on cable and satellite.
The Minutemen’s Nov. 29 regular season finale at Ohio, which is the only game without a kickoff time, will either be on ESPNU or the online-only ESPN3. All five Mid-American Conference games scheduled for that day could land on either ESPNU or ESPN3. The network will decide which to air on ESPNU based on which games have greater implications.
UMass’ Sept. 7 home opener against Maine (2 p.m.) will be on ESPN3. The game will also move from WWEI-FM (105.5) to WHYN-AM (560) because it conflicts with the Boston Red Sox. UMass football games and the Red Sox are both on WWEI-FM in western Mass.
The Minutemen’s Oct. 19 game at Buffalo (3:30 p.m.) is on Time Warner Cable’s sports network, but only a minimum number of towns, including none in Hampshire County, get their cable from Time Warner.
ESPN and its affiliates have the right to add any MAC game to its schedule with a 12-day advance notice.
The remainder of UMass’ start times are: Sept. 14 at Kansas State (7 p.m.), Sept. 21 vs. Vanderbilt (noon), Oct. 5 at Bowling Green (3:30 p.m.); Oct. 12 vs. Miami (3 p.m., band day); Oct. 26 vs. Western Michigan (3 p.m., homecoming); Nov. 16 vs. Akron (1 p.m.); Nov. 23 at Central Michigan (1 p.m.).
PREVIEW MAGAZINES — There are still two months until the season kicks off, but most of the annual college football preview magazines are on shelves at newsstands and bookstores.
With the Minutemen coming off a 1-11 season and heading into their second year playing the Bowl Subdivision, there’s minimal optimism about their prospects for 2013:
Athlon Sports — There is MAC coverage in the national and Big Ten editions of the annual. UMass is picked seventh in the MAC East and 124th overall, ahead of only new FBS school Georgia State and behind new FBS Old Dominion.
Only Colter Johnson (second team punter) made either of the two preseason All-MAC teams. Athlon projected UMass to finish 0-11 overall and 0-8 in the MAC. The Minutemen are last in all of the conference’s offensive and defensive positional unit rankings except linebacker, where they’re are picked 12th.
Lindy’s — The most optimism came in Lindy’s, which had UMass 113th in the nation, ahead of Central Michigan (117) and Eastern Michigan (123), and fifth in the MAC East, ahead of Miami and Akron. Offensive lineman Anthony Dima is on the second team All-MAC preseason team.
The Sporting News Preview Magazine — UMass avoided the cellar here too, picked sixth in the MAC East ahead of Akron. Johnson was the All-MAC punter.
USA Today Preview Magazine — UMass is picked last in the MAC East with a projected record of 1-11 (0-8).
Phil Steele’s College Football Preview — No magazine packs more information and statistics into its pages annually than this one, as it forgoes storytelling for statistical analysis.
It projects another tough year for UMass. It has the Minutemen last in the MAC East and 125th overall, ahead of only Georgia State. It projects UMass to have the worst scoring offense (17.2 ppg) in the FBS.
Tight end Rob Blanchflower is a MAC third team tight end, while Johnson and Dima are on the fourth team.
HUSTLEBELT COUNTDOWN — Hustlebelt.com, which covers the MAC extensively, is counting down the top 68 players leading up to the season. Johnson checked in at No. 58, while Blanchflower is No. 56. The countdown is at No. 53.
MISCELLANEOUS — Former Minuteman Travis Tripucka was cut by the New York Jets earlier this week, while former UMass running back/wide receiver Brian Dowling has transferred to Towson.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.