With upcoming games against Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Florida in a five-year span, the future of UMass football includes some of the sport’s biggest programs. Whether the Minutemen will be talented enough to make those games competitive remains to be seen, since UMass has made the decision — criticized by some — to play football at the highest college level after more than a century of lower-tiered success.
The first UMass football team was in 1879, but the school wasn’t consistently good until the 1960s, when it was a member of the Yankee Conference. Playing in what was known as Division I-AA, UMass became a national power, qualifying eight times for the NCAA Tournament and winning 22 conference championships. Three times the Minutemen advanced to the national title game, culminating in 1998, when the school won its only I-AA championship, beating Georgia Southern, 55-43.