Ranking the difficulty of UMass’ 12 games

Last modified: Monday, January 04, 2016

This is a ranking from toughest to easiest on the UMass’ 2105 football schedule. It’s not necessarily a ranking of who is the most talented teams the Minutemen play, although that’s a huge component, but location and timing factor in as well.

Tier 1 — If UMass wins there will be a bronze plaque commemorating the win

1. Notre Dame — The Irish are ranked No. 11 in both polls. They are by far UMass’ toughest opponent.

Tier 2 — The Minutemen enter as underdogs, but should be at least competitive.

2. Bowling Green — Toledo is probably the best MAC team UMass faces, but at least that game is at home. If the Minutemen could knock off the Falcons in their MAC opener, they’d move into MAC East favorite status.

3. Toledo — UMass hung with the Rockets in Ohio last year. Can they do it in Foxborough?

4. at Colorado — The Buffaloes are talking breakthrough, but seemingly the only thing anyone can agree on in Pac 12 predictions is that Colorado is going to be last. Still the Buffs will have played a game already and it’s not only a road game for UMass, but a road game in altitude.

5. vs. Temple — The Owls might be better than Colorado, but the game is in Foxborough. Temple’s defense should be strong creating an interesting style matchup. If UMass game beat either the Owls or Buffaloes, there will be excitement and momentum heading into conference play.

Tier 3 — These are games that a good team can and should win

6. vs. Akron — This is a game that cold really make or break UMass’ bowl chances. The Zips underachieved after a strong start, but they have the schedule to be a bowl contender.

7. at Ball State — The Cardinals are a trendy pick to improve this year. The Minutemen looked far superior in last year’s matchup in Amherst. Will it be the same in Muncie?

8. at Buffalo — This is the last game of the season and it could mean something to UMass if the Minutemen are trying to earn bowl eligibility or improve their bowl situation. The Bulls are rebuilding.

Tier 4 — If UMass loses these games, it’s a massive disappointment

9. vs. Florida International — If the Minutemen go 0-for-September, this becomes a gigantic game for UMass. But even still, if the Minutemen are decent this should be a win in Amherst.

10. at Eastern Michigan — The Eagles would be dead last if the game was in Massachusetts, but in any location, UMass should be favored.

11. vs. Miami (Ohio) — The Red Hawks aren’t expected to be good and UMass has a score to settle at home.

12. vs. Kent State — The Minutemen pummelled the Flashes last year in Ohio. In Amherst in front of a homecoming crowd, this should be UMass’ biggest advantage yet.


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