Wins are hard to come by in college football, as fans of both the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks know all too well.
The two teams enter Saturday’s matchup at Gillette Stadium (3 p.m. ET on ESPN3) having played 10 games on the season. They have combined for zero wins.
After Saturday, one of the two will have its first win. The Minutemen (0-5, 0-1 MAC) hope it’s them.
After falling at home to Central Michigan 21-9 in Week 6, the RedHawks (0-5, 0-1 MAC) fired head coach Don Treadwell and offensive coordinator John Klacik. Quarterbacks coach Mike Bath was named interim head coach and offensive coordinator.
Both teams have been a staple in “The Bottom 10” on ESPN.com.
“As far as looking ahead to Miami (Ohio), our team is ready to turn the corner,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said, according to a transcript of his weekly conference call. “Again though, our approach has always been consistent -- let's work each and every day to make our football team a little bit better than it was the day before. Up to this moment in time, I have not seen that process stop.”
The Minutemen have struggled badly in their second season at the FBS level, scoring a meager 7.0 points per game (ranked No. 125, last in the country) and allowing 31.6 points per game (ranked No. 92). They have lost key players to injury (including captain Rob Blanchflower and running back Jordan Broadnax) and made other changes because of performance (swapping quarterback A.J. Doyle in for previous starter Mike Wegzyn).
The RedHawks have scuffled intensely, as well. They have been slightly better than the Minutemen offensively (scoring 8.8 points per game) and slightly worse defensively (allowing 35.6 points per game).
Could the Minutemen be catching the RedHawks at just the right time, what with the recent coaching change? Molnar wasn’t taking the bait.
“This is a first-time experience for me,” Molnar said. “We have enough of our own challenges each and every day, so we will focus on taking care of business here at UMass and they will deal with their issues. I think the biggest thing for us is to stay focused on getting better today and being prepared for what we expect Miami (Ohio) to do.
“They can't totally change their offense or defense in a week; it would be impossible to do. Nevertheless, we will be on edge to see how they come out at the beginning of the game and see if they dramatically lean in one way or another.”
The bottom line is that one way or another, one of these struggling teams will have its first win of the season. And the other will have yet another hard loss to deal with.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.