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UMass preparing for Central Michigan

It’s only one game, but it can certainly feel like more than that.

Because of the emotions tied to senior day, a win that day feels like more than just a win. And a loss feels like more than just a loss.

So for UMass’ seniors, this past Saturday’s 14-13 loss to Akron hurt that much more. The Minutemen led into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t put the Zips away.

Coach Charley Molnar wanted the win for his seniors, but said when the season’s over in two weeks they should still be proud of their accomplishments.

“What I said to them then is what I've said to the seniors ... every single week about how much we appreciate their effort and their loyalty,” Molnar said, according to a transcript of his weekly conference call. “After all their contributions they've made to this program, unfortunately they're not leaving with a conference championship or a division championship, but I think they're all walking away knowing they've left a legacy behind of the foundation that they've helped put in for the UMass football program as it ventures into FBS football.”

The Minutemen (1-9, 1-5 MAC) will close out the season with games on the road at Central Michigan (4-6, 3-3) at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN3) and Ohio (6-5, 3-4) on Friday, Nov. 29 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN3).

The Chippewas are coming off a 27-22 win over Western Michigan, in which Zurlon Tipton ran 29 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

Tipton had 25 carries for 185 yards and four TDs against the Minutemen last season, so they’re well aware of what he can do.

“We came away from that game feeling like Zurlon Tipton was the best running back in the Mid-American Conference,” Molnar said. “He had a career day against us.”

They’re also aware of the prolific tackling turned in this season by Shamari Benton, tied for 13th nationally and third in the Mid-American Conference in tackles with 102, and Justin Cherocci, tied for 17th nationally and tied for fourth in the MAC with 99.

“There are some outstanding players on both sides of the ball that we're going to have to work our game plan against,” Molnar said.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.