The Massachusetts football team announced its 2012 non-conference schedule on Thursday, and it will play games against Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Vanderbilt in its first season as a Football Bowl Series team.
The five out-of-conference opponents are in addition to the full Mid-American Conference schedule that the Maroon and White will play as a member of the conference.
The Minutemen will open their season away at Connecticut on Aug. 30, followed by the first UMass home game in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. against the Hoosiers on Sept. 8.
A week later, UMass will return to the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich. to play the Wolverines, where they nearly managed a major upset in 2010, losing, 42-37.
Rounding out the non-conference opponents, the Minutemen will take on the Commodores on Oct. 27, which is part of a four-game series that will alternate each year between Foxboro and Nashville through the 2015 season.
Last year, UMass took on the biggest FBS opponent with the largest crowd in its history, traveling to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines. Approximately 110,396 fans packed into the Big House for the first night game in the stadium’s history. UMass quarterback Kyle Havens threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and tailback Jonathan Hernandez rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, but penalties and turnovers prevented any hopes of an upset.
This year, Boston College was the FBS opponent on tap for the Minutemen, but things didn’t pan out as well as last year. Quarterback Kellen Pagel threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage, and UMass trailed through the entire game, eventually falling, 45-17. Hernandez rushed for 80 yards and one touchdown in the losing effort.
UMass announced its move to the FBS and Gillette Stadium in the spring, and after a full season in the MAC, the team will be eligible to play in bowl games and the MAC championship. Until then, the team is ineligible for postseason play.
Michael Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.