The UMass Minutemen and UConn Huskies are ready to play some football. Both teams are scheduled to open their season against one another on Thursday at Rentschler Field.
Once upon a time, this was a tremendous rivalry that started all the way back in 1897. Thursday's contest will mark the 72nd time that these two foes have pitted themselves against one another and the first time since 1999 when the Huskies became a FBS school.
UConn is expected to have a much improved offense with a new quarterback in junior-college transfer Chandler Whitmer. The bell-cow of the unit undoubtedly remains running back Lyle McCombs who gained 1,152 yards on the ground in 2011 as a freshman.
Defensively, the Huskies are a tale of two parts. The rushing defense was 4th in the nation last year as Gethin Coolbaugh points out. Unfortunately, they were undone by the pass, ranking 113th in that department.
For the Minutemen, 2012 is all about getting their feet wet in Division-I. A first-year member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), UMass is looking to gain a foothold as an up-and-coming program.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Wegzyn will lead the Minutemen, getting an opportunity to prove his value to the squad after winning the starting job for the opener, while true starter Kellen Pagel comes back from a concussion.
All-time, UMass leads the series 36-33-2.
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds: UCONN -25