Game Preview for Ohio U vs Akron
FACTS amp; STATS: Site: Rubber Bowl (35,202) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Ohio 3-2, Akron 1-1. Away Record: Ohio 2-3, Akron 1-5. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, Akron 1-0. Conference Record: Ohio 3-3, Akron 2-3. Series Record: Series is tied, 11-11-1.
GAME NOTES: The red-hot Ohio Bobcats will try to continue their recent run as they travel to Akron to take on the Zips this Wednesday evening in a Mid- American tussle at the Rubber Bowl. Since dropping four straight matchups, the Bobcats have won three of their last four contests, including two in a row. The last time Ohio was on the field the team posted a convincing, 23-7 victory over Temple. The Bobcats will enjoy a 17-day break before closing out their season at home against Miami-Ohio. As for the Zips, they have been terrible this year and head into this matchup with a three-game losing skid. The most recent setback came this past Friday as the team was hammered by Bowling Green, 44-20. Over the past two seasons the Zips have struggled in league play, posting just a 5-8 ledger. Since the 1999 season, the Zips have won six of the last eight matchups against Ohio, but one of those losses came this past season, as the Bobcats tallied a 17-7 win over Akron. The victory was the first for Ohio against Akron since 2002 and it also evened the series at 11-11-1.
The Bobcats used their outstanding running game this past weekend to slip by Temple, 23-7. Ohio churned out 219 yards on 49 carries in the win with the majority of the yards coming from tailback Kalvin McRae who rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown on 28 totes. The ground game has been the main source of production for this squad all season, as Ohio is averaging an impressive 160.9 ypg. The reason for the team's success on the ground is due to the play of McRae, who has been one of the most effective backs in the MAC, rushing for 1,213 yards and 17 scores in 10 games. Unfortunately, the passing attack has not had similar success, as the team is throwing for just 220.7 ypg. The main reason for the struggles is due to the two quarterback system the team has employed. Both Brad Bower and Theo Scott have saw time under center, but neither have been effective. Bower has completed 57.3 percent of his throws, but has just 1,450 yards and seven scores against 10 interceptions. As for Scott, he has just 702 yards on the season, and has just four TDs against three INTs. This Wednesday, Bower might see the majority of snaps since Scott is dealing with a groin injury.
In the same win over Temple the Bobcats put forth possibly their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Owls to just 209 total yards. Ohio was especially tough against the run, limiting Temple to just 48 yards on 31 carries (1.5 ypc). This was the most shocking aspect of the victory, especially when considering stopping the run has been the biggest problem for the Bobcats. Throughout 10 games, teams are producing a whopping 192.8 ypg via the run and overall teams have averaged 409.2 total ypg, which has led to 28.2 ppg. Another reason for the solid outing was due to the fact that the defense forced two turnovers and also grabbed four sacks in the win. The team has excelled in both areas all year, forcing 21 turnovers, while grabbing 24 sacks. The team has also done well on third downs, holding the opposition to a mere 38 percent conversion rating.
There is little that has gone right for the Zips offensively, as the team is currently producing a pathetic 309.1 total ypg, which has led to just 19.3 ppg. The ground game nor the passing attack has been effective this season, as the team is churning out a mere 127.1 ypg, while throwing for an equally terrible 182.0 ypg. This past weekend against BGSU the Zips did rack up 435 total yards, but the team finished with just 20 points and fell by a 24-point margin. Surprisingly the team put forth a solid effort on the ground, rushing for 243 yards on 46 attempts. Quarterback Carlton Jackson led the way with 133 yards, while Bryan Williams added 41 yards on eight carries. Unfortunately Jackson did not have the same success under center, as the signal caller completed just 14-of-31 passes. Jackson finished with 192 yards and one touchdown, but also tossed two interceptions and was sacked once. Jackson was filling in for Chris Jacquemain who was out with an undisclosed injury. Neither QB has played well during the year, as Jackson has completed less than 50 percent of his throws for only 538 yards and four scores against four INTs. As for Jacquemain, he has thrown for just 1,100 yards in eight games and has eight scores against six interceptions.
Unfortunately the Zips has struggled defensively as well, as the squad is being abused by the opposition for 398.4 total ypg, which has led to 30.1 ppg. The main problem for this unit has come against the run, as the team is yielding 188.6 ypg on the ground. The defense continued to struggled against Bowling Green, as the Zips were dismantled for 517 total yards, including 216 yards on 38 carries (5.7 ypc). The defense did not force one turnover in the loss and recorded just one sack. Both areas have been a sore spot for Akron, as the team has forced just 17 turnovers, while collecting only 17 sacks. The defense has also struggled inside its own 20-yard line, as teams are currently converting 88 percent of their red zone chances.
The Zips have been terrible on both sides of the football, but the biggest concern is on defense, as the Zips must find a way to stop Ohio's McRae from running all over the field.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio 31, Akron 14
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Wednesday's College Football TV Capsule
Opening Line: Ohio by 3.
Series Record: Series tied 11-11-1.
Last Meeting: 2006, Ohio 17-7
Last Meeting: 2006, Ohio 17-7
Ohio is first in the Mid-American Conference in passing defense (122.79) and fourth in rushing offense (160.9 yards per game). ... The Bobcats are 3-10-1 all-time at the Rubber Bowl. ... Akron has won six of the last eight meetings, including four straight in the Rubber Bowl. ... Akron is third in the MAC in total defense (398.4 yards per game) and last in total offense (309.1 yards per game).
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What bettors need to know: Ohio at Akron
Bobcats still in the chase
A four-game losing streak in the middle of Ohio’s season threatened to derail the entire year. The defending MAC East champion has since clawed its way back into contention for a bowl game with two straight wins. The Bobcats are now back at .500 in both conference play (3-3) and overall (5-5) and are playing their best football at the right time.
"After we went through that stretch there, the coaches came in and said 'Just forget about these last six games. It's a new season, a new approach,'" Ohio linebacker Lee Renfro told The Athens Messenger. "So yeah, it's been kind of like a new season. Every since we came through that as a team, guys have started stepping up and (doing) what they were asked to do."
Even with a win on Wednesday against Akron, there’s no guarantee the Bobcats will retain their title. But with three MAC teams locked at 5-5 overall, two more wins for Ohio could be enough for it claim one of the conference’s three automatic bowl spots.
Ohio’s success this season depends a lot on results from other games, but head coach Frank Solich is focusing on what his own team needs to do on the field.
"I've found out that rooting doesn't work," he told the Messenger. "What's going to happen is going to happen. The only thing you can control is what you're all about in terms of playing the game."
Ohio’s final two games of the schedule are among its most difficult – they follow this week’s trip to Akron with a home game against division-leading Miami of Ohio.
Akron offense in need of zip
Akron’s inability to get its offense going has cost it dearly this season. The Zips are 3-6 overall (2-3 in the MAC) and a loss Wednesday would end their already slim chances of challenging for the East Division title.
The Zips are last in their conference in total offense, averaging 312.4 yards per game. They are putting up just 19.3 points per contest and haven’t been able to make the big plays when they needed to.
''We have not had a lot of big-hit plays and part of that is by design,'' Akron coach J.D. Brookhart told the Akron Beacon Journal. ''We want to consistently move the ball, but you still have to take some chances and look for those opportunities, and we have not made those plays.
“Guys making six to eight plays a game makes a big difference, and we're not making them.''
One of the Zips’ biggest problems this season is red-zone conversion. They are 10th in the 13-team MAC in that area, converting on 19-of-27 opportunities – with just nine TDs.
''I think in the red zone right now, we've got just nine touchdowns,'' Brookhart added. ''And if you expand the red zone a little further, we've had a tougher time scoring.''
Luckily, the defense has picked up the slack to help Akron stay competitive. The ‘D’ is third in the MAC East in total yards per game (400.1) and first against the pass (209.9 per contest).
If the Bobcats manage to turn their season around and make a bowl game, they can thank senior running back Kalvin McRae for getting them there. McRae is already Ohio’s all-time leader with 4,177 yards and is sixth in the nation with 16 touchdowns this season.
“Kalvin is the kind of back that gets the yardage that’s not there,” Solich told the Athens Messenger when asked about his star player. “Some backs, if you block a play for four yards, you’ll get four yards. With Kalvin if you block a play for four yards, you’ll get 10. That’s a great way of keeping drives alive.”
McRae has the chance to break two more school records before the end of the year. With 858 career carries, he’s just 27 shy of Kareem Wilson’s 885 mark – set in 1998. With 47 career TDs, he’s only two away from tying Wilson in that category.
In his most recent game, a 23-7 win over Temple, McRae ran for 151 yards on 28 attempts with one touchdown. Fellow running back Vince Davis, who is expected to take over as the main rusher next season, added 47 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, Ohio ranks third in the MAC with 164.1 rushing yards per contest.
Head to head
The Zips have won, and covered, in three of the last four meetings between the teams. They haven’t lost to Ohio at home since 1997, covering in four of the five home games since then.
Four of the last five contests between Ohio and Akron have gone under the total.
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Ohio (5-5, 6-3 ATS) at Akron (3-6, 4-5 ATS)
The Mid-American Conference takes center stage for the second consecutive night, as Ohio visits Akron in a battle of tired teams playing their third game in the last 12 days.
Ohio ended Temple’s three-game winning streak with a 23-7 victory as a nine-point home favorite Friday night. The Bobcats have followed up a four-game slid by going 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four.
Akron suffered its third consecutive SU and ATS loss on Friday, falling 44-20 at Bowling Green as a seven-point road underdog. The Zips’ defense surrendered 517 total yards, while the offense committed four turnovers, all but assuring that Akron will fail to qualify for a bowl game for the second straight year.
Ohio beat Akron 17-7 as a five-point home favorite last year, ending a three-game losing streak to the Zips. The home team is 7-2 in the last nine meetings (6-3 ATS). In fact, the host has cashed in 10 of the last 14 series meetings.
In MAC play, Ohio is 3-3 SU and ATS and tied for fourth in the East Division, while Akron is 2-3 SU and ATS and in sixth place in the seven-team division. The straight-up winner has covered the spread in every conference game this year for both squads.
Going back to last year, Akron is just 2-8 ATS against MAC foes. Meanwhile, despite getting the spread-cover against Temple, the Bobcats are still just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 November games. However, they are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 against teams with sub-.500 records.
The last three series meetings have stayed under the total. However, the over is 5-2 in Ohio’s last seven overall and 5-2 in Akron’s last seven.
ATS ADVANTAGE: OHIO
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BEHIND THE LINES
By Lonnie White
In putting together an 8-13 record over the last two seasons, Akron has been anything but a football power. But the Zips have a strong history playing as home underdogs, going 16-5-1 over their last 22 games in this role.
Akron (3-5) will be home underdogs again when they play host to Ohio (5-5) tonight in a Mid-American Conference game. The Bobcats, who have won two in a row, are three-point favorites and are 4-1 in their last five games as a favorite.
What do UCLA, Maryland and Vanderbilt have in common this week? The Bruins, Terrapins and Commodores are the only home teams receiving less than 10% of betting support for this weekend's games as of Tuesday, according to the Spread.com's betting trend.
The Bruins are seven-point underdogs to Arizona State and getting only 9% support against the spread. Maryland, a six-point underdog against Boston College, is picking up only 7%, and Vanderbilt is picking up only 4% as 3 1/2 -point underdogs against Kentucky.