Boston College will travel to McGuirk Alumni Stadium to face off against the UMass on September 11th, 2021. The Eagle lead the series 22-5-1 which goes back to 1899 when Umass was known as the Massachusetts Agricultural College.
While UMass was once a successful FCS program, the transition to FBS has not been kind to the Minutemen. The team has a record of 18-70 since joining the FBS in 2013. UMass has only played 2 ACC opponents: BC and NC State. Its record is 5-23 against those ACC teams and 7-48 against Power 5 conferences as a whole.
Their head coach Walt Bell does not have a lot of games under his belt after only playing 4 games in 2020. He and his team went 1-11 in 2019. Before taking the head coaching job, Bell was an offensive coordinator and QB coach at Arkansas State, Maryland, and Florida State but has never previously been a head coach.
After only playing 4 games in 2020 it is hard to say how much stock should be put in the stats but they are the best indication of the type of offense BC will face and the players BC fans should look for. Even for just 4 games the UMass offense was less than impressive last year, averaging 121.5 yards passing and 67.3 yards rushing (their numbers in 2019 were only 168.5 and 124.6 yards respectively). The numbers contradict Walt Bell’s self-professed desire to become a ground and pound team that prioritizes the run, but the general consensus is that there has been too much inconsistency for the Minutemen to form much of an offensive identity. Covid-19 really did throw a wrench into Bell’s plans to build up the program.
The Minutemen have had 3 different leading passers over the last 3 seasons and they may have a 4th this season. UMass’s 2020 leading passer Garrett Dzuro does return in 2021 but he may be supplanted by Tyler Lytle the grad-transfer from Colorado. Leading rusher Ellis Merriweather returns and while leading receiver Samuel Emilus has departed ,their second and third leading receivers sophomore wideout Jermaine Johnson, Jr. and tight end Josiah Johnson (who also got snaps at QB) return to the squad.
Defensively was where fans seemed to find some sense of optimism coming out of 2020. Stats wise the story does not reflect that optimism. The Minutemen gave up an average of 208.8 passing yards per game, 273.5 rushing yards per game, and gave up 22 TDs.
On defense the Minutemen lost their top 2 tacklers and top sack master but return a lot of talent in the secondary including defensive captain Josh Wallace and Tanner Davis in the secondary. Up front Avien Peah and Viczail Alobwede return on the defensive line.
UMass’s strength is the secondary which could be interesting as BC’s receiver core is its offensive strength but the Eagles still have the talent advantage and more importantly the depth and it is that depth that UMass won’t be able to counter.
If we look at the EagleMeter this game ranks as...a 100% lock for an Eagles victory.