UMass football announced a giant group of upcoming games on Thursday, including a big trip to face Penn State.
The Minutemen are currently an FBS independent, which, aside for Notre Dame and Army, makes for serious scheduling challenges.
Yesterday’s announcement signals that the school is serious about its long-term viability as an FBS program.
The highlight of UMass’ announcement is probably the two-sport series with Penn State.
On the football end, UMass is taking a one-off trip to Happy Valley in 2023.
The two teams have met on the gridiron one other time, a 48-7 win for the Nittany Lions back in 2014.
As part of the deal, the Minutemen and Nittany Lions men’s basketball teams will also play a home-and-home series, beginning in 2021 at UMass.
From the school’s release:
University of Massachusetts Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford and the UMass football program announced multiple future season schedule additions and a scheduling adjustment on Thursday. It includes series with eight FBS programs: Army West Point, Eastern Michigan, Liberty, Mississippi State, Missouri, New Mexico, Northern Illinois and Penn State.
“We are pleased to be announce a number of great games with quality FBS opponents in future years,” Bamford said. “Coach Bell’s program will see a healthy mix of games versus regional and national opponents, which is an important piece of our plan to create a sustainable future for UMass Football as an FBS Independent.”
The Penn State football game is scheduled for Nov. 11, 2023. The Nittany Lions also face West Virginia and Delaware in their non-conference schedule that year.
UMass also announced the following football series, two of which are decade-long deals:
Army: at Army in 2019, ’21, ’23, ’25, ’27 | at Massachusetts in 2020, ’22, ’24, ’26, ’28
Eastern Michigan: at Massachusetts in 2021, ’24 | at Eastern Michigan in 2022, ’23
Liberty: at Massachusetts in 2019, ’22, ’24, ’26 | at Liberty in 2020, ’21, ’23, ’25, ’27
Mississippi State: Game previously scheduled for Oct. 17, 2020 at Mississippi State moved to Oct. 19, 2024
Missouri: at Massachusetts in 2024 | at Missouri in 2025
New Mexico: at New Mexico in 2020 | at Massachusetts in 2023
Northern Illinois: at Northern Illinois in 2024 | at Massachusetts in 2025
UMass was among the better Northeastern FCS teams before its move up, but has seriously struggled since joining the FBS ranks. The Minutemen were 6-18 as a MAC school for two years, and are 10-26 since going independent ahead of the 2016 season.
This off-season, the school replaced long-time head coach Mark Whipple with Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell.