Stratton’s Take: UConn Football’s loss to UMass signifies the end of the season

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UConn plays against UMass in Amherst, MA on Saturday, Oct. 9. UMass beat UConn 27-13. Photo by Taylor Coonan/The Daily Campus.

As I watched in agony as the University of Massachusetts faithful stormed Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium in their 27-13 win over the University of Connecticut on Saturday, one thing was clear to me: the Huskies’ season is over. 

Prior to this game, my hopes were high. Coming off two games where UConn lost by a combined four points against decent competition, I thought the Huskies had a chance in Amherst against the lowly Minutemen. This hope began to fall apart before the game even started when reports came out that UConn lost some players and staff to COVID-19 protocols, including fiery head coach Lou Spanos. Has Spanos won any games this year? No. Has he lit an immense fire under the team to get them to compete, even when times have been tough? Yes. 

The team missed Spanos badly and it showed, with the Huskies scoring a total of three points across the final three quarters. It was as if Spanos was able to give the players words of encouragement before the game, but those remarks slowly faded as the game wore on. 

Given  this contest was against a team as bad as UMass, this might just have been the worst effort in UConn sports history. The play-calling was atrocious in the second half, with the team seemingly abandoning the pass game, instead electing to frequently rush up the middle, something that former coach Randy Edsall famously gave fans headaches for. The Minutemen seemed like they wanted to win more than the Huskies, which is never something you want to have happen in a rivalry game of this caliber. 

With Spanos here or not, it would have been nice to see some fight from the team, but instead they just laid over to die in the fourth quarter. UConn let UMass score in three straight possessions in the final quarter after leading the game 10-7 at halftime. Down 27-13, UConn’s answer was not to march down the field and score, but instead to fumble the ball on the initial kickoff. After actually holding a weak Minutemen offense to a three and out with just over three minutes left, the Huskies couldn’t even manage a first down, effectively ending the game with a missed fourth down conversion. 

Regardless of how ineffective UConn has been this year, there is no way they should be letting a squad that hadn’t won in 742 days beat them that badly down the stretch. One may argue the Huskies are young and don’t know how to win games, but the same is true for the Minutemen. To put things in perspective, the last time UMass won a football game before Saturday’s contest, the top song on the radio was Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.” This time around, the truth hurts in a different way for the Huskies, with fans having to accept this may be the worst FBS team in college football history. 

With the Yale game looming this Saturday, it is a must win matchup to avoid claiming the above title. It would be quite the accomplishment to lose to FCS  Holy Cross, an FCS-caliber team in UMass, and then to FCS Yale, all in one winless campaign. Yale doesn’t even offer scholarships to their players. They would be one of, if not the first team, to lose to multiple FCS opponents in a single season, an outcome that ESPN’s FPI deems likely, as it gives the Huskies a 40.9% chance to beat the Bulldogs. 

As a UConn student who is so dedicated to this team, it is hard not to be frustrated. I’ve watched all seven games and attended four of them, watching every single minute of each one, even when down by 40 or more points. After all remaining hope was shattered in Saturday’s disappointment, it has become evident to me how critical this upcoming coaching hire is for the team. Whoever takes the helm next needs to take this program to victories so that we’re not a perpetual embarrassment. I don’t care how they get it done. All I’m requesting is a few wins every year. Is that too much to ask? Possibly. Until then though, I’ll have to bear through the last five hours of game-time in the empty student sections and watch the clock slowly tick until basketball season is upon us. 

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