Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey falls flat in 5-0 loss to Northeastern -

January 20, 2018

UMass women’s track and field takes first, men fourth at Joe Donahue Games -

January 20, 2018

Sanzo: UMass’ game vs. St. Louis is a sign of what it is without its grit -

January 20, 2018

UMass men’s basketball gets blown out by Saint Louis, 66-47 -

January 20, 2018

UMass hockey shuts down No. 8 Northeastern with 3-0 win -

January 19, 2018

Matt Murray hands Northeastern its first shutout of the season -

January 19, 2018

Minutewomen stunned by last-second free throw -

January 19, 2018

UMass hockey returns home to battle juggernaut Northeastern squad -

January 18, 2018

Slow start sinks Minutemen against URI -

January 17, 2018

UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling -

January 17, 2018

Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Home-field advantage big for UMass this weekend

With the success the Massachusetts football team has had this year at home, the team must be happy to return to Amherst, especially when facing an opponent like No. 4 New Hampshire.

On the year, the No. 18 Minutemen are a perfect 3-0 at McGuirk Stadium, but winless in two tries on the road, after their 43-27 loss last Saturday at Delaware. With the Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) coming to campus on Homecoming weekend, UMass (3-2, 1-1 CAA) will hope to continue its perfect record at home, and make a statement in a game that few can deny could have big implications down the road.

“We’ve got to come back and make a statement that we’re still competitors in this conference,” quarterback Kyle Havens said. “We still have faith that we can win this conference, so it’s a big game.”

Havens, as well as UMass coach Kevin Morris, are happy to have a home-crowd advantage at the game after traveling to Delaware, where they faced a tough Blue Hens squad and a crowd of over 22,000 fans. But regardless of whose side the crowd is on, Morris feels his team shouldn’t be affected by it, and should be able to play the same on the road as they do at home.

“Home or away, we still have to play well at both places,” Morris said before Tuesday’s practice. “We obviously have to get better at doing that, but we love playing at home because we have the great home crowd.”

The Minutemen have controlled the all-time series against UNH, especially at McGuirk, where they hold a 15-7 record against the Wildcats.

When it comes to hosting Top 5 teams since 2002, the Minutemen have also fared well, going 4-2. The last visit by a Top 5 team, however, came in 2005 when the then-fourth ranked Wildcats squared off with then-seventh ranked UMass, with the Wildcats coming out on top, 34-28.

UMass has always played well in McGuirk, going 22-2 since 2006 and 48-11 since 2000.

Keep on running

When the Minutemen fell behind 20-0 to Delaware last Saturday, it had to change its mentality on offense, as it found itself playing catch up. With that mentality, tailback Tony Nelson had one of his worst statistical games in a UMass uniform.

Nelson averaged just 2.2 yards per carry on 15 carries for a total of 33 yards in the loss.

“It was definitely playing catch up, and a matter of that we didn’t play well,” Morris said. “We didn’t block well, we didn’t tackle well, all of those fundamental things, but we didn’t get it done, and that took away from our effectiveness on both sides of the football, and that hurt our running game.”

Morris hopes for his team to not find themselves in an early deficit as they did against the Blue Hens, in hopes of being able to keep Nelson as a full part of the offense. Last year, when UMass traveled to UNH, they found themselves in an even greater deficit, as they trailed 31-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter.

“Any game in the CAA, if you’re going to give points away like we did, you’re going to put yourself into a hole that is really hard to get out of,” Morris said. “We did that, and we couldn’t get out of that hole.”

Drop in the polls

With the loss to Delaware, UMass dropped six spots, its lowest ranking of the year to No. 18. The drop was tied for the second largest drop of the week, with only Eastern Kentucky falling further from No. 16 to No. 24.

The win also boosted the Blue Hens into the Top 25 at No. 23 after not being ranked the week before.

Prior to this week’s rankings, the Minutemen had been as low as No. 17 in the Sports Network Poll. UMass started the year at that spot, and remained there until their win over Rhode Island boosted them to No. 15. While the Minutemen may have dropped in the most recent poll, they have still been one of the most consistent teams in the Top 25, claiming a spot in the polls for 60 of the last 61 weeks.

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

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