Saturday night's game will be the first ever between UMass and Vanderbilt and is the first of four scheduled meetings between the two schools over the next six season. This is the first match against an SEC opponent for UMass as an FBS member, and the Minutemen are hoping to represent the Mid-American Conference well in Nashville.
"Any time you go out-of-conference you are carrying the banner for the MAC and we know we will have a lot of eyes on us with just the fact that we are playing an SEC team that beat Auburn last week is enough to get everybody excited," said first-year UMass head coach Charley Molnar. "I know our guys are ready to play football, even after the game [against Bowling Green] I could tell our guys were disappointed but not discouraged. The morale was good - no one likes to lose and we certainly didn't taking losing easy but I think our guys will come back, practice hard and be ready to play."
As Molnar pointed out, UMass' latest loss came against Bowling Green last weekend in Foxboro, with the Minutemen being blanked, 24-0. It was UMass' best game from a defensive perspective, as the 24 points allowed were the fewest by the Minutemen this season. Unfortunately, the Minutemen offense could not keep up, totaling 118 yards and converting on third down only once in 16 tries. Wegzyn played a terrible game, completing 9-of-25 passes for 23 yards and two interceptions.
Vanderbilt is coming off of an encouraging 17-13 victory against the Auburn Tigers last weekend. Zac Stacy powered the Commodores offense with 169 rushing yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. Jordan Rodgers completed 15-of-25 passes for 173 yards and Chris Boyd grabbed six passes for 77 yards. Rodgers has 1,241 passing yards and three scores this season while Stacy has racked up 668 rushing yards and five touchdowns for Vanderbilt.
Saturday's game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET and will be aired on NESN and Fox Sports Net.
For more UMass Football coverage, visit our Mid-American Conference blog, Hustle Belt.