Wednesday's College Football TV Capsule
Opening Line: Miami (Ohio) by 9.
Series Record: Miami (Ohio) leads 12-5-1.
Last Meeting: 2006, Akron 24-13
Last Meeting: 2006, Akron 24-13
Akron is third in the MAC in total defense (394.5 yards per game), and sacks (2 per game) and are first in tackles for loss (6.8 per game). ... The Zips are just 1-8-1 all-time in Oxford, a 14-0 win in 1939. ... Miami has won their last three contests at Yager Stadium, but Miami has not won four straight at home since it won five in a row in 2004. ... Miami has won 10 of the last 13 meetings.
Re: Wednesday Football
What bettors need to know: Akron at Miami-Ohio
Win and you’re in
The Redhawks just need to win the last two games of the schedule and they will face Central Michigan in the MAC title game on Dec. 1. With an improving Akron team visiting Wednesday, Miami-Ohio is taking nothing for granted.
"There is still a lot of football to be played," Miami coach Shane Montgomery told the Richmond Palladium-Item on Monday. "We're obviously not looking past this game. There are a lot of things that can happen in the last two weeks."
The Redhawks are 3-1 in the MAC East (5-5 overall), and lead Buffalo (3-1) and Bowling Green (3-2), having beaten both earlier this season. While a win over the Zips would put them in pole position to take the title, a loss would hand momentum back to Buffalo.
Akron (4-6) is relishing the role of potential spoiler.
"Our kids will play hard at all times," Zips coach J.D. Brookhart told the Palladium-Item. "I fully expect, regardless of the situation, our kids will play hard the whole time.
"Miami has the best path to the championship. It's a tough place to play, a lot of challenges. I think our guys will be up for it."
In last season’s meeting, Akron defeated the Redhawks 24-13 at the Rubber Bowl.
Montgomery added: “This has been a very, very close football game every year. We know they're going to come in with a lot of confidence and they've still got a lot to prove."
The Zips’ offense struggled this season until a standout game against Ohio last week. Akron’s ‘O’ still ranks last in the MAC with 323.1 yards per game, but it produced 419 yards and five TDs in the 48-42 win over the Bobcats.
Zips head coach J.D. Brookhart is particularly impressed with his inexperienced offensive line. It features just one returning starter from last season – senior Mike Schepp.
''I always thought they were going to be good; they are just a young and inexperienced group,'' he told the Akron Beacon Journal about the line. ''They are now starting to ramp it up. They are communicating well, I love their attitude and Schepp has been a good leader.”
The improvement in Akron’s offensive line is plain to see in its running game. Sophomore Alex Allen gained a team-high 96 yards on 14 carries against Ohio, while junior Bryan Williams finished with 80 yards on 16 carries. Williams leads the team with 560 rushing yards.
''Certainly, you have swings in momentum and not just game to game, but by weeks,” added Brookhart.
“They are starting to get that confidence, but there's always that fine line between confidence and being overconfident. I know they aren't overconfident, and they'll continue to play hard.''
Miami-Ohio is allowing 174.3 yards per contest on the ground, a rush defense ranked 76th in the country.
Sykes close to full fitness
The Redhawks’ running game will receive a huge boost for the Akron clash. Senior RB Austin Sykes is back in the lineup and close to full fitness. Sykes picked up an ankle injury in the October loss to Vanderbilt and could only manage three carries in the win over Buffalo a week later.
"Austin tried to go in the first quarter," Hawks coach Shane Montgomery told the Dayton Daily News. "I just feel like he wasn't close to 100 percent, so we held him out for the rest of the game. He should be back on Wednesday."
Miami relies heavily on Sykes after season-ending injuries felled running backs Brandon Murphy and Andre Bratton. He leads the team with 438 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Montgomery had more good news for his team on the injury front, announcing that linebacker Ryan Kennedy is "close" to returning from a knee injury, while safety Peris Edwards will be back after missing the Buffalo game with a shoulder injury.
Head to head
Miami has won eight of its last 10 meetings with Akron, covering the spread in four of the last five. The Zips are 1-3 ATS in their last four games this season, while the Redhawks are 2-2.
Six of the last eight contests between these two teams have gone over the total.