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Minutemen to play at Michigan in 2010

When the Massachusetts football team traveled to Texas Tech University last September, the Minutemen set a record for most fans (53,190) to see a UMass sporting event. But that number should disappear soon, as UMass and Michigan agreed to a contract earlier this summer to play in Ann Arbor, Mich. in 2010

The Minutemen will travel to Michigan Stadium on Sept. 18, 2010 to take on the Wolverines, one of college football’s most storied teams. Michigan Stadium is also one of college football’s most famous fields.

“Playing at Michigan presents our players with a unique opportunity to play in one of the best venues college football has to offer,” UMass coach Kevin Morris said to UMassathletics.com.

The “Big House,” as Michigan Stadium is known, has an official capacity listed at 106,201, almost double the number of fans who saw UMass face the Red Raiders. When the Minutemen travel to the “Big House,” the official capacity is expected to be over 108,000 as construction began in 2007 on an expansion project. The project is expected to be completed prior to the 2010 season.

Even playing against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, the game is sure to bring a large crowd to Michigan Stadium as the Wolverines have had crowds of over 100,000 for 215 consecutive games – a streak that dates back to 1975.

Besides Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, Michigan Stadium is the second-largest football-only venue in the world.

In 2003, Michigan set the NCAA single-game attendance record when 112,118 fans filled Michigan Stadium past capacity to see the Wolverines take on Ohio State University. Michigan has also led the nation in attendance for 33 of the past 34 seasons.

Besides last year’s game against Texas Tech, the only other crowd over 50,000 to see a UMass sporting event was in 2002. A crowd of 51,221 watched the Minutemen take on North Carolina State University in a game on Sept. 28.

The Michigan game will mark the 11th time in 12 seasons the Minutemen will take on a Football Bowl Subdivision team with UMass holding an 8-20 all-time record against FBS teams. The last win for the Minutemen against an FBS team came in 1984 when they upset Ball State University.

The Wolverines hold NCAA records in most games won (872) and an all-time winning percentage of .740. The program has also won 11 national titles.

“We are extremely excited to play a game against a program with such history and prestige as Michigan,” UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon said to UMassathletics.com. “We think it will be a tremendous experience for our student-athletes and our fans. We are looking forward to playing before more than 100,000 people and think it will be a very memorable event.”

For Michigan, its last lost to an FCS team came in 2007 in one of the greatest upsets in college football history. To open the 2007 season, the then-ranked No. 5 Wolverines took on the then-defending FCS champion Appalachian State University. Before a crowd of 109,218, Michigan fell to the Mountaineers, 34-32, after Appalachian State blocked a last-second field-goal attempt to seal the victory. The win marked the first time since the Division I subdivisions were created in 1978 that an FCS team beat a team ranked in the Associated Press poll.        

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at jlarnard@dailycollegian.com.

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