College Football Betting Odds, Picks for UConn vs. UMass: Which Side Will Finally Win? (Oct. 9)
M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Steven Krajewski.
- UConn and UMass go to battle in Saturday college football action, looking to pick up their first wins of the season.
- Both teams have seemingly taken steps forward, but that might not be saying much.
- Stuckey explains how to play this matchup that only a bettor could love.
UConn vs. UMass Odds
|Moneyline||-155 / +135|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
It’s the Super Bowl of Toilet Bowls: UMass vs. UConn — two of the worst programs in all of FBS. It’s a game only a bettor (or family member of a player) could love.
If college football games could end in a tie, I’d probably bet on the draw in this one. However, since that’s no longer possible, one of these programs will come out of this with a victory — something neither has enjoyed in quite some time.
- UMass (0-5) has lost 16 straight games with its last victory coming at home against Akron in 2019. The Minutemen have gone a combined 1-20 over the past three seasons.
- UConn (0-6) has lost 10 in a row since beating UMass back in 2019. (The Huskies canceled their season in 2020). And if you remove that victory over UMass, UConn has also lost 16 straight games and has gone 1-20 over its last 21.
Something has to give.
These clubs actually met in 2018 and ’19, with the road team coming out victorious in each. And the history of this rivalry actually dates back to 1897, when the schools were known as Massachusetts Agricultural College and Connecticut was officially Storrs Agricultural College.
Overall, UMass owns a slight head-to-head advantage with a record of 37-35-2.
So, which one of these teams will finally get that elusive win this weekend? Let’s try to crack that code.
UConn vs. UMass Betting Preview
After not playing a single game last season, UConn looked lost out of the gates, as expected, in 2021.
The Huskies started out 0-4, including a 38-28 home loss at the hands of FCS program Holy Cross. They were outscored 136-0 over the first 10 quarters against the three FBS opponents it faced before finally scoring 21 points in the second half of a blowout loss to the Army.
Well, something must have clicked at halftime of that Army game because UConn has actually looked much better since dropping a pair of games by four combined points against Wyoming (-31) and Vanderbilt (-14.5) despite being significant underdogs in both.
The Huskies, who have now covered in three straight games, actually had a two-point conversion attempt to force overtime against Wyoming and lost on a last-second field goal on the road at Vanderbilt.
Definite progress for a team that looked completely helpless early on.
So, what changed? Well, the coach for starters. Instead of waiting for the end of the season to step down, Randy Edsall decided to depart after UConn’s first two losses.
That paved the way for defensive coordinator Lou Spanos to take over as interim head coach.
The depth chart has also undergone quite a few changes since that coaching change, as Spanos continued to search for the best mix from a very inexperienced group.
One of those changes included promoting true freshman Tyler Phommachanh to starting quarterback in a surprise move before the Army game.
That move along with the hiring of Noel Mazzone as an offensive assistant seemingly provided a spark for one of the youngest units in the country.
Currently, the starting offense features a true freshman quarterback and an all-freshman skill position group, in addition to two along the offensive line.
The defense is a little more experienced up front and has actually held up well against traditional rushing attacks (excluding Army’s triple-option attack):
- Wyoming had 45 carries for 203 yards (4.5)
- Fresno ran it 38 times for 156 yards (4.1)
- Purdue had 42 rushes for 187 yards (4.5)
- Vanderbilt had 33 rushes for 106 yards (3.2)
Against the four FBS opponents excluding Army, UConn has allowed only 4.1 yards per carry. For reference, that would put them right around 80th in the country. It doesn’t sound that great, but that’s actually quite an achievement for this UConn roster.
Conversely, UConn’s extremely raw and inexperienced secondary has struggled as expected. The Huskies are one of 11 teams in the country that have allowed at least 9.0 yards per pass attempt.
Another Quarterback Change
Jack Zergiotis started the first two games of the season at quarterback. However, he was wildly inefficient and way too careless with the football.
As a result, Spanos decided to make a change in his first game as interim head coach and named Steven Krajewski the new starting quarterback. Krajewski has a bit better mobility than Zergiotis, but the passing offense did almost nothing against Purdue.
That led to a third quarterback change for the Army game when Spanos decided to go with Phommachanh. The dual-threat freshman definitely gave the offense a brand new element with his running ability and it also might have been a move looking ahead to the future.
However, Phommachanh got hurt early in the game against Vanderbilt and is now out indefinitely. Krajewski once again took over and actually had a decent day at the office, throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns but also two interceptions. He also added a 34-yard touchdown scamper.
So, it appears Krajewski will start under center for this one under center, but expect the unexpected with this UConn team in 2021.
Thrown Into the Fire
After using four different quarterbacks across four games in a shortened 2020 schedule, UMass came into this season with some optimism about who would line up under center with the arrival of University of Colorado grad transfer Tyler Lytle.
However, that feeling only lasted one game as Lytle went down with an injury in the first game against Pittsburgh. That opened the door for true freshman Brady Olson, a three-star pro-style quarterback and Massachusetts native thought to be the QB of the future for the Minutemen.
Olson clearly wasn’t ready for the job quite yet and has struggled mightily at times against a very difficult early-season schedule. He did flash some potential in the second half against Boston College (albeit against mainly backups) and more impressively against Eastern Michigan, finishing 22-38 for 285 yards and two touchdowns to just one interception.
UMass actually scored 28 points in each of those contests, which must have felt like 100 to a team that got out-scored 161-12 last year.
Olson does seem to have a pretty good connection with Charlotte transfer Rico Arnold, who is by far the most talented receiver on the roster.
Bruises and Bandages
After a grueling gauntlet of opponents to start the season, UMass has been bitten by the injury bug pretty hard so far this season.
Lytle was the most impactful player to go down, but the Minutemen did just lose starting running back Kay’Ron Adams for the season — although the Rutgers transfer has not been as effective as Ellis Merriweather, who will now take on the bulk of the work in the backfield. The depth behind him consists of walk-ons, which has to scare head coach Walt Bell a bit.
Additionally, starting tackle Max Longman will be a game-time decision. And defensively, a pair of starting corners, Donte Lindsay (who plays more slot and in the box) and Josh Wallace, could miss their second straight game.
On the bright side, this is the best depth UMass has had in a few years. Bell actually had 110 kids in camp this summer after only having around 80 two seasons ago. Plus, the drop-off between a player on this particular roster and their replacement will never make a material difference.
UConn vs. UMass Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UConn and UMass match up statistically:
UConn Offense vs. UMass Defense
UMass Offense vs. UConn Defense
Pace of Play / Other
All you need to know is both of these teams are bad.
From a pace perspective, it’s worth noting that UMass prefers to play slower, while UConn wants to go faster when on offense.
UConn vs. UMass Betting Pick
It’s true that UConn has looked like the much better football team over the past three weeks after three straight covers, but they’ve also had the much easier schedule this season.
The Huskies played FBS Holy Cross (who lost to Merrimack College at home the following week) and Vanderbilt, while UMass has played five FBS schools — including a pair of above-average P5 schools (Boston College, Pittsburgh) and two other conference favorites (Toledo, Coastal Carolina).
By my metrics, UMass has had one of the 20 hardest schedules in the country, while UConn has had a below-average one.
It’s not an easy game to handicap with all of the quarterback movement on each team. The strength of each team lies on the defensive line, so you’re basically relying on which bad passing offenses can make more play against the other bad passing defense. Krajewski or Olson? Not the most appetizing choice.
I do think Olson will feel a lot more comfortable in his fifth start as a true freshman after facing some much tougher defenses — similar to the performance we saw against EMU’s porous defense. I also trust the UMass weapons a tad more than the freshman-filled UConn wide receiver group.
Either way, the margins are slim, but I think this game should be priced closer to a PK, so I’ll gladly take the 3.5 with the home Minutemen and hope the inevitable blocked punt that decides this mess is one that UMass and not UConn blocks.
Happy Toilet Bowling!