Don't give up.
That's the message for both Boston College and UMass as the former comes off a bye week and the latter heads into one.
Things look stark, sure, but the players, coaches, administrators, and fanbases have to keep the faith in the face of some serious adversity lately.
Let's start with BC, which hosts NC State this weekend. The Eagles are 3-3 at the halfway point of the season and coming off a pair of losses to Wake Forest and Louisville by a combined five points.
When you looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season, it was not out of the question to expect a 6-0, 5-1, or 4-2 record at this point. The Kansas game that ended up being a blowout loss was supposed to be an easy win. The Wake and Louisville games could have gone either way.
Even if you concede that BC was never beating the Jayhawks because of subpar run defense, the last two defeats were there for the taking and slipped away. This at its base is a 5-1-caliber team with a .500 record.
Those are harsh realities, and it's easy to throw in the towel when you are looking at what could have been.
However, even though the toughest part of the schedule is coming with road games at Clemson and Notre Dame on the back end, a win over the Wolfpack Saturday would give the Eagles a puncher's chance at seven regular season wins. You hit that mark with a bowl game, and you have Steve Addazio's winningest season at The Heights.
After all the disappointment to start this season, you take that if you're BC. So all is not lost.
As for UMass, look, we get it. This is not a good team right now. However, what exactly did fans expect this weekend? Sure, a 69-21 loss to Louisiana Tech in Shreveport is not going to make anyone happy. But, again, were you thinking the Minutemen were going to be in this one?
We know this team beat Akron. We also know it's tough to watch a blowout. However, we know when a team is this young, inexperienced, and frankly low on talent, competitive games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams aren't in the cards.
We'll be going to Harvard at Holy Cross on Saturday. UMass is closer in talent level to those two teams than the Minutemen are to a program like Louisiana Tech right now. That's just the honest facts from someone who has watched a lot of football up close this year.
Take offense to that if you want, but if you're going to pitch a fit on Twitter about losing a game that you were never going to win, please know that you are deluding yourself in thinking this thing will get solved overnight.
Again, there are true freshman walk-ons starting for UMass. Stuff happens.
UConn comes to Amherst after the bye. As bad as things are right now, that is a game the Minutemen can win. We know UMass fans are up to their ears in "Be patient" talk, but it's required here, and giving up on the team, the program, and the FBS level in general won't help the Minutemen get a win over a hated rival.
Fitton to be a good one
There will be a lot of great games this weekend, but it will be hard not to find a better take than when Harvard heads to Holy Cross Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Holy Cross — just like last year — has emerged from a difficult early schedule to get on a bit of a winning streak, beating Bucknell and Brown in back-to-back weeks. The offense has come around, with a 47-point explosion against the latter, who is, admittedly, in rebuilding mode right now. Still, improvement is improvement, and it never hurts to confidence of an offense to nearly hit the half-century mark in one game.
Harvard has been on fire with three decisive wins since losing the opener at San Diego. Granted, the schedule is back-heavy with the Crusaders, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Yale among the final six games.
Either way, these teams put on a show last year at Harvard Stadium, and we expect another classic at Fitton Field Saturday.
Right now, the only team with an unbeaten record in Northeast 10 play is Stonehill.
Of course, that could change quickly with games against Bentley and Assumption coming up, but it's a big step in the right direction for a program that went 2-8 last year.
Once again, there was a significant impact by a wide receiver with the last name of Jamiel. Dennis-Yarmouth alum Andrew Jamiel, who caught 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown in his team's 52-0 win over Franklin Pierce, became the eighth player in conference history to reach 3,000 career receiving yards.
Like his older brother, Jo Jo, who had a terrific career at Sacred Heart, and his younger brother, Geoffrey, who is still a junior at D-Y, you're looking at a player who is not big (he is listed on the roster as 5-foot-10, 170 pounds), but plays huge.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who watched him play in high school that Williams quarterback Bobby Maimaron is tearing up the NESCAC.
The former Duxbury star was unstoppable for the Dragons, especially his senior year in 2016, and has grown now into one of the best signal-callers for any local Div. 3 team.
This weekend, Maimaron completed 11-of-19 passes for 191 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed for 80 yards in his team's 35-10 win over Hamilton.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, a player who is good enough to play at the Division 1 or 2 level ends up at a D3 school, and people assume that it's some kind of step down.
We have no doubt that Maimaron could play at a higher-division school, but the fact of the matter is that he is at an excellent program and balling out at a high level.
Maimaron has always been legit, and he continues to prove it every week.
There will be two
Right now, in an increasingly-competitive race for the top spot in the ISL-6, you have three teams — Belmont Hill, Governor's Academy, and Milton Academy — with 4-0 records.
Let's just get this out of the way now. Although we are firm believers that Catholic Memorial is the best team in the state, MIAA or NEPSAC, we also firmly believe — after watching this weekend's tremendously-entertaining, 28-21 Belmont Hill win over BB&N — that any of the top ISL-6 teams could give CM a run for its money.
Maybe someday, we'll see those types of matchups. But for now, we'll just have to enjoy the fact that there is some really great football being played at every type of school here.
This week, Governor's hosts Milton in what should be a fun take between two of the best teams in the region. That will leave just two unbeaten teams in the league, and we know whoever is left standing for the NEPSAC bowl bids will be able to give any Class A team all it can handle.
Maybe we should not have been too surprised at Wachusett's 21-0 win at Nashoba Saturday. After all, the Mountaineers shut out a more veteran Chieftains program a year ago, and we've been high on this Wachusett team since the preseason.
We're planning on taking in Friday night's game with Shepherd Hill, which should be a bare-knuckle brawl with how the two teams play.
The Div. 3 Central race is turning out to be quite interesting, and defending champ St. John's of Shrewsbury will be hard to beat with the insane amount of perimeter talent the Pioneers possess.
But the Mountaineers made the biggest statement in Central Mass. this weekend, and get the chance to make another one when the aptly-named Rams come to Holden.