WHERE: McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, Massachusetts

KICKOFF: Saturday, noon

WEB/TV: FloSports/NESN+

ALL-TIME SERIES: Massachusetts leads, 42-16-1

LAST MEETING: Nov. 11, 2017, won by Massachusetts, 44-31

LAST WEEK: Maine lost to Stony Brook, 22-17; Massachusetts lost to Rhode Island, 35-22

KEY STAT: 3-23, Maine’s record vs. FBS opponents

OUTLOOK: This is certainly a winnable game for the Black Bears. UMass lost last week to Rhode Island, which Maine defeated the week before. After that game, Massachusetts fired its head coach and defensive coordinator. The biggest issue facing the Black Bears is trying to figure out what the new coach is going to do, especially defensively. The Minutemen are giving up 45 points and 490.1 yards per game. They’ve allowed 231.9 rushing yards per game, which Maine will try to exploit. Maine QB Joe Fagnano, injured in the season’s second game, will return as the starter. He gives the Black Bears a deep ball threat that they’ve been missing. But Maine will likely try to run the ball often, with Freddie Brock and Elijah Barnwell, to take some pressure off Fagnano in his return. Maine also has to take care of the ball, because UMass has eight fumble recoveries. The Minutemen are averaging only 15.8 points per game, but the Black Bears have to be wary of RB Ellis Merriweather, who has rushed for 611 yards and three touchdowns. The Minutemen list freshman Brady Olson or redshirt freshman Garrett Dzuro as the starting quarterback.

OF NOTE: In addition to Fagnano returning, the Black Bears are getting other injured players back. Left guard Matthias Staalsoe, injured on Oct. 16, will be back in the starting lineup. And DEs Jamehl Wiley and Justin Sambu are both expected to play. Wiley has been out for six weeks and Sambu the last three. RT Kevin Jones, who missed most of the second half last week, should return. If not, he’ll once again be replaced by redshirt freshman David Gross of Bucksport. But Maine will be without WR Michael Monios, who suffered a broken clavicle last week. WR Andre Miller (hamstring) will be a game-time decision. If Miller can’t play, look for sophomore Montigo Moss (three catches, 48 yards last week) to step in again. … Maine’s three wins over FBS opponents came in 2004 (Mississippi State, 9-7), 2013 (Massachusetts, 24-14) and 2018 (Western Kentucky, 31-28). … Maine is 4-0 this year when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.


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