Matt Vautour: Mississippi State cracks top 25 before game with UMass

  • Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) looks to pass against Texas A&M during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft) Sam Craft

  • Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) looks to pass against Texas A&M during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft) Sam Craft

@MattVautourDHG
Published: 10/30/2017 8:47:38 PM

The Associated Press poll released Monday either gave the UMass football team a tremendous opportunity or a huge burden when Mississippi State landed at No. 21.

The Minutemen have earned themselves a reputation of putting a scare into Power 5 conference teams in recent years. That hasn’t been true against ranked opponents.

As an FBS program UMass is 0-5 against teams with numbers in front of their names. Its closest loss came to No. 25 Florida last year (24-7). The Minutemen lost the other four — No. 23 Wisconsin (2013), No. 21 Northern Illinois (2013), No. 6 Notre Dame (2015) and No. 19 Toledo (2015) by a combined score of 221-81, an average of 55.25-20.25.

In fact, the most competitive UMass has been with a ranked FBS team was in 2010 when the then-FCS program hung with No. 16 Michigan before falling, 42-37.

This is the second time the Bulldogs have been ranked this year as they cracked the poll at No. 17 following a September stomping of LSU, but losses at Georgia and Auburn bounced them back out of the top 25.

It’s possible, even likely, that Mississippi State could overlook the Minutemen. The Bulldogs host No. 1 Alabama the following week.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: — It feels like the playoff committee should have waited a week to release its first ranking because things figure to be much clearer after a pretty impactful slate of games Saturday.

South Carolina at No. 2 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. CBS — It’s usually safe to assume Georgia will lose a game it’s suppose to win in November. This is as good a bet as any for that to happen, which would make it a lot harder for the SEC to get two teams in the playoff.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 20 NC State, 3:30 p.m. ABC — The Tigers are still on path to reach the playoff despite their Syracuse stumble. But the Wolfpack are good and on the road that could be a landmine for the defending champs.

No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State, 4 p.m. FS1 — Ten years ago, Mike Gundy was a man. He was 40. If his Cowboys beat the Sooners, he’ll be The Man in Stillwater, at 50.

On top of that, he’ll have a shot at reaching the playoff.

No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 9 Miami, 8 p.m. ABC — Until Miami has a loss, the Hurricanes can’t be entirely written off. The Hokies are good enough to beat them.

PLAYOFF BOUND — Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

IF I HAD A HEISMAN VOTE — Penn State’s Saquon Barkley looked a lot more average than he has all season with just 44 yards rushing and 23 receiving in a loss to Ohio State, but he’s still the leader with nobody obvious to fill the void.

FINALLY — For anyone who is hoping for an eight-team playoff in the future, the Big Ten missing the playoff is a pretty good catalyst toward making that happen.

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




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