Updated: Thursday, 22 Oct 2009, 2:40 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 22 Oct 2009, 2:40 AM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - #14 UMass Faces Defending NCAA Champ #1 Richmond:
Coming off a monumental 23-17 win over arch rival and then-ranked #4 New Hampshire, the #14 UMass football team faces another stiff challenge on Saturday. The Minutemen (4-2, 2-1 CAA) head to Richmond (6-0, 4-0) to take on the defending NCAA Champion and undefeated #1 ranked team in the nation. UMass will seeking its second-ever win over a #1 ranked team in the nation.
The game pits two of the four CAA conference members ever to win a National Championship as UMass claimed the crown in 1998 and Richmond achieved it a decade later, last December. UMass and Richmond are two of the three winningest programs in the CAA over the last five years as well with the Spiders posting a league-best 45-14 record and UMass right behind with a 41-16 mark. UMass has the best mark over the last decade of all CAA teams with a 75-40 record for a 65.2 win percentage. Richmond is sixth on the list over the last 10 years with a 66-50 record.
UMass Vs. The #1 Team:
UMass is playing in just its fourth all-time game against the top-ranked team in the nation. The Minutemen beat a #1 team in 1998 in the NCAA Championship game, taking down Georgia Southern, 55-43. The Minutemen lost to #1 Youngstown State, 28-9 at McGuirk Stadium in 1994 and to Appalachian State, 28-17 in the 2006 NCAA Championship game in Chattanooga.
Playing The Defending Champs:
This is the fifth time UMass will be playing a defending NCAA FCS Champion since the division was formed in 1978. Three of the previous four games have come at McGuirk Stadium. The last time UMass beat a defending champion was on Oct. 15, 2005 in a mud-fest in Amherst as the Minutemen took down 2004 Champion James Madison, 10-7 at home.
UMass lost the 2006 NCAA Championship game to the 2005 title winner Appalachian State, 28-17 in Chattanooga.
On Sept. 25, 2004, UMass dropped a 21-7 decision to Delaware in the first-ever meeting of A-10/CAA teams to have captured the national title as UMass won it in 1998.
The first time UMass played a reigning champion was when Youngstown State came to Amherst on Nov. 12, 1994 and won, 28-9.
UMass' Success Vs. Top 5 Teams:
Last week's win over then-#4 New Hampshire continues the Minutemen's recent success against Top 5 teams. UMass has had tremendous success against Top 5 teams in recent history. The Minutemen stand 7-4 in their last 11 games against the nation's top-five ranked teams. Before the UNH win last Saturday, the Minutemen's last win over a Top 5 team came in the 2006 NCAA Semifinals, when No. 3 UMass beat No. 2 Montana, 19-17, in Missoula. Since 2002, UMass has seven wins over Top 5 teams. The Minutemen also beat #4 James Madison (10-7 in 2005), #4 Colgate (30-20 in 2004), #2 Villanova (19-14 in 2003), #4 Villanova (17-16 in 2002) and #2 Maine (20-10 in 2002).
Dating to 1998, UMass is 9-7 in 16 games vs. Top 5 teams.
Last week's game at home was the first visit by a Top 5 opponent to McGuirk Stadium since 2005 when then-#4 New Hampshire came to Amherst and beat No. 7 UMass, 34-28 on Oct. 29. Since 2002, UMass is 5-2 at home against Top 5 games winning four times from 2002-05.
With a match-up against #4 UNH last week and the game at current #1 Richmond this week in Virginia, the Minutemen are playing teams ranked in the Top 5 in back-to-back weeks in the regular-season for the first time since 2002 when UMass knocked off #2 Maine and #4 Villanova on Oct. 12 and 19 in consecutive weeks.
UMass played #1 and #2 in consecutive weeks in the 2006 NCAA postseason, beating second-ranked Montana, 19-17 in the Semifinals before falling to the top-ranked Appalachian State in the NCAA Final, 28-17.• UMass holds a 13-10 lead in the all-time series against the Spiders, which began in 1984. The teams played every season for the 21 years as members of the Yankee and then Atlantic-10 Conference from 1984 to 2005, before not playing in 2006 and 2007.
UMass has won three of the last five meetings and five of the last nine.
Richmond began its current 15-game overall win streak with its win over UMass last season and has not lost in more than a year since Oct. 11, 2008.
Richmond posted a 30-15 win last season as UMass welcomed back members of its 1998 National Championship team on homecoming on Oct. 18, 2008.
The visiting team leads the series in the opposition's stadium. UMass leads the all-time series in Richmond, 8-4, winning the last two games in 2005 (19-6) and 2002 (34-13). At McGuirk, the Spiders hold a 6-5 edge after last season's win.
Among the memorable games in the series history was the 1987 game, a 52-51 Richmond win in four overtimes. It stands as the longest game in UMass history. It was equalled by the four-overtime win over Villanova two years ago, 32-24 on Oct. 13, 2007.
Connections Between UMass/Richmond:
Richmond coach Mike London is quite familiar with UMass and the Minuteman coaching staff as his son Brandon London played four years for the Minutemen from 2003-06. Brandon spent last season with the Miami Dolphins after spending 2007 with the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Brandon finished his career third in career receptions with the Minutemen, hauling in 148. He is also fourth in career receiving yards with 2,022.
UMass features four players from the state of Virginia including Richmond native junior cornerback Ke'Mon Bailey along with fellow Virginia residents: sophomore LB Tyler Holmes (Blacksburg), senior WR Joe Sanford (Charlottesville) and redshirt freshman punter Caleb Violette (Blacksburg, Va.).