UMass Minutemen

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TCU, NC State, Ohio State and Wisconsin among those who can clinch bowl eligibility in Week 7


A handful of teams you expect to be bowl eligible this past weekend officially clinched their eligibility to play in a postseason game. This means Alabama, Clemson, Penn State, Georgia, Washington, and Washington State are now officially in the running for the College Football Playoff after each clinched the required sixth win to become bowl eligible for the 2017 season. San Diego State can also start focusing on their postseason outlook after picking up their sixth win of the season.

This week a few more teams can join the party with a win. Among the more notable names vying for postseason eligibility this week includes TCU (the new Big 12 leader in the clubhouse after this past weekend), Wisconsin (staring at a possible 12-0 record), and N.C. State (the Wolfpack have won six straight since a season-opening loss to South Carolina). At 5-1, the Auburn Tigers are also one win away from clinching their bowl eligibility, and they would become the third team from the SEC to do so. Ohio State can also join the fun with a win at Nebraska, which will also make Nebraska’s chances of reaching the postseason that much more difficult.

At 5-1, the Auburn Tigers are also one win away from clinching their bowl eligibility, and they would become the third team from the SEC to do so. Ohio State (5-1) can also join the fun with a win at Nebraska, which will also make Nebraska’s chances of reaching the postseason that much more difficult. USC is also in the 5-1 club and gets to host Utah this week in a key Pac-12 South Division matchup. Virginia Tech is 5-1 as well, but the Hokies are off this week before getting back on the field next week against North Carolina. Notre Dame will also have to wait a week for their chance with a bye week to prepare for a game against USC in South Bend. Kentucky is also off this week with a chance to wrap up their postseason eligibility the following week at Mississippi State.

A few other teams looking to lock down their eligibility this week include Navy (at Memphis), USF (vs. Cincinnati).

On the flip side, UMass and Charlotte (each at 0-6) can officially be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss this weekend.


Heat ratcheted up on Butch Jones as Tennessee barely slips past winless UMass

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Aside from being on the right side of the won-loss ledger, this is absolutely not what Butch Jones or the Tennessee Volunteers needed.

The come-from-ahead last-second loss to Florida in Week 4 set a sizable chunk of Vols Nation to grumbling about the current state of the football program in general and Jones’head-coaching tenure specifically. With winless UMass coming to Neyland Stadium in Week 4, it was viewed as an opportunity for UT to reset and get back on track for games against No. 11 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama the next three weeks.

The good news? They won their third game of the year against the one loss, claiming a 17-13 victory. The bad? The looked rough, ragged and utterly inept, especially on offense, in doing so.

For the game, the Vols totaled 297 yards of offense 62 plays.  In the second half, they ran 31 plays and put up just 64 yards — and 26 of those came on their last drive of the game that didn’t involve a kneel-down.  Their eight possessions went punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game.

So, how did the fans who showed up at Neyland Stadium express their frustration over the current state of the football program?  By morphing into empty seats, apparently.

Armed with a mediocre 30-21 record — and 14-19 mark in SEC play — Jones entered the 2017 season on the coaching hot seat. These last two weeks have done nothing to quiet such talk; in fact, it’s done nothing but ratchets up the calls for his coaching head on a platter.

Should Tennessee stumble against Georgia and Alabama in the coming weeks, all bets are off as to whether Jones will see a sixth season in Knoxville.

FIU adds game with UMass to replace cancelled Indiana contest

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The AAC wasn’t the only entity getting busy (twice) Thursday rescheduling in the aftermath of the chaos caused by Hurricane Irma.

As part of the AAC’s revamping of its schedule, UMass lost its Oct. 14 game against South Florida. Florida International, meanwhile, saw its game this weekend against Indiana canceled because of the logistical difficulties traveling to Bloomington amidst the storm damage in the state of Florida.

Given both teams’ need for a 12th game, the programs announced Thursday that UMass and FIU have reached agreement on a contract to play Dec. 2 this year. That contest will be played in Miami.

Should FIU qualify for the Conference USA championship game — the Panthers were predicted to finish sixth in the East, and lost to UCF by 44 points in the opener — the game this year would not be played. The previously scheduled game in 2020 would be unaffected by any result, while UMass would travel to FIU at some undetermined date beyond 2020 if this year’s game is not played for whatever reason.

The tweaked schedule gives the Minutemen an almost unheard of bye date on back-to-back weekends (Oct. 7 & 14) in the middle of their season.

It had previously been announced that FIU’s opponent in Week 3, Indiana, had replaced that game with an Oct. 7 game against Charleston Southern.

Toledo and Ohio top preseason MAC coaches poll

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While most of the 2017 conference predictions and preseason polls have been out there for over a month from the media day circuit, the MAC has held off until today to reveal its preseason coaches poll. As it turns out, the coaches in the MAC have some varied opinions on how things will shake out in the MAC this football season.

Ohio and Toledo were each selected to win the MAC East and West Divisions, respectively, by the coaches of the MAC, although a few others received first-place votes in each division as well. Ohio picked up nine first-place votes in the East to pull ahead of Miami. Ohio won the division last season and hopes to clinch its first MAC championship since 1968. Ohio has never played in back-to-back MAC Championship games, so returning to the game this year would mark a first for the Bobcats.

Toledo last won the MAC in 2004 but the Rockets are widely considered a conference favorite this season. Still, the coaches in the MAC have a different take on the West Division with four other teams receiving first-place votes. Toledo still received seven first-place votes, but defending conference champion Western Michigan picked up two, and Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Ball State each received a first-place vote from the MAC coaches.

Here is how the MAC coaches poll looks. For reference, the preseason media poll also tabbed Ohio and Toledo, with the Rockets being named the preseason conference championship favorite. The coaches did not vote on a preseason conference champion.

2017 MAC Head Football Coaches Preseason Poll

Team (First Place Votes)  Points

MAC East Division       

  1. Ohio (9)                                 69
  2. Miami (3)                              61
  3. Bowling Green                    45
  4. Akron                                     41
  5. Buffalo                                   20
  6. Kent State                            16

MAC West Division

  1. Toledo (7)                             66
  2. Western Michigan (2)        58
  3. Northern Illinois (1)            45
  4. Eastern Michigan               35
  5. Central Michigan (1)          31
  6. Ball State (1)                        17

Vegas prop bets mix Mayweather-McGregor megafight, college football opening night

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What an absolutely huge sports night we’re getting set for. It just doesn’t get much bigger than this. What a spectacle it will be.

That’s right, it’s opening night of the 2017 college football season! Oh yeah, and there’s that other sporting event you may have heard about.

As the Stanford-Rice game Down Under in Australia is being played, the much-hyped megafight between one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of any generation, 40-year-old Floyd Mayweather, and 29-year-old UFC superstar Conor McGregor will be going down in a Las Vegas squared circle.

Earlier in the day, Colorado State will christen its brand-new on-campus stadium with its opener against Oregon State as well. All of that leads us to this, with releasing earlier this week a pair of cross-sport prop bets involving the latest Fight of the Century and the two previously-mentioned college football games.

For the record, No. 14 Stanford is a 31-point favorite over a Rice team that won three games last season while the over-under for the entire OSU-CSU game is 60 points. If I were a gambling man — and I’ll bet you I’m not — I’d go with McGregor on both counts.  But that’s just me.

Back to football one final time, though, as there are three other games featuring at least one FBS team being played today on what’s officially the opening weekend of the college football season but is more like a formal dress rehearsal for the real thing next weekend: Portland State at BYU (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), Hawaii at UMass (no TV) and No. 19 South Florida at San Jose State (7:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network).