Massachusetts (0-9) at Akron (1-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: InfoCision Stadium (30,000) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: UMass 0-3, Akron 1-4. Away Record: UMass 0-6, Akron 0-5. Neutral Record: UMass 0-0, Akron 0-0. Conference Record: UMass 0-5, Akron 0-6. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Massachusetts Minutemen attempt to snap the FBS' longest losing streak as they travel to InfoCision Stadium to duel the Akron Zips in a matchup between two squads stuck at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference's East Division.
This will be the first-ever matchup between these programs on the gridiron. UMass, Akron, and Eastern Michigan are the only teams from MAC without a win in league action entering this week.
UMass is currently on a 12-game losing slide dating back to last season. The Minutemen have not had an ideal tour of the MAC in their inaugural year as a member of the league. UMass has lost all of its games but one by double-digit margins, which has led to an 34.1 point average margin of loss for Charley Molnar's squad.
Although the Zips are far from their inaugural season as an FBS program, they have only been slightly better than the visitors in 2012. Akron was mathematically eliminated from the race for the MAC's top spot weeks ago and enters on a seven-game losing slide. Coach Terry Bowden has made a positive impact in his inaugural season at the helm of the program despite its unattractive 1-9 overall record. The Zips dominated Morgan State, 66-6, in their lone win of the season and came up just short in overtime losses to FIU and Ohio University. Akron played tough its last time out, but still suffered a 35-24 setback to the first-place Kent State Golden Flashes.
The UMass offense has yet to catch up to the higher level of competition, as it puts up just 267.9 ypg and ranks last in the FBS in scoring (10 ppg).
Mike Wegzyn threw all four of his touchdown passes this season a few weeks back versus Ohio University, but otherwise he has found next to no success under center, completing 52.1 percent of his passes for 149.3 passing ypg, with seven interceptions. A.J. Doyle has also seen action, but he too has played poorly as a reliever (25-of-52, 162 yards, five INTs, one TD).
Deion Walker (42 receptions, 490 yards, two TDs) has proven to be a reliable target for Wegzyn, and Alan Williams (22 receptions, 231 yards, three TDs) has been a factor in the red zone.
Michael Cox is the team's lead back, but his production has been rather pedestrian with 128 carries for 569 yards and three touchdowns. As a team, the Minutemen average just 2.8 yards per rush attempt.
While the offense has certainly struggled, the defense has also done little to impress (44.1 ppg, 481.1 ypg). UMass allowed NIU to gain 610 yards of total offense last week, which is the highest amount amassed by an opponent this season.
The increased volume of work has made Perry McIntyre one of the top tacklers in the nation (92 tackles, 4.5 TFL). Darren Thellen (56 tackles) has two interceptions, but as a team UMass has created only 11 takeaways in nine games.
The Zips had one of the least productive offenses in the FBS last season with mere averages of 277.8 yards and 14.2 points per contest. Bowden's no huddle philosophy has led to 436.7 yards and 27.6 points per game. The Zips rank first in the MAC and 14th in the FBS with their 315.6 passing yards per game average after gaining 312 yards through the air in last week's loss to Kent State.
Senior transfer Dalton Williams was relatively unknown when he arrived on campus this past off season from Stephen F. Austin with just a single year of eligibility remaining. Bowden is getting the most out of his quarterback, who is averaging just under 47 attempts per game and has a 24-to-12 touchdown-to- interception ratio. Williams paced the team by going 30-of-41 passing, for 312 yards and two TDs with zero INTs last week.
Williams's favorite target is Marquelo Suel, who has tallied 685 receiving yards and four touchdowns through 10 games. Zach D'Orazio, Keith Sconiers, L.T. Smith, and Dee Frieson also play vital roles in Akron's spread attack. Junior wideout Jerrod Dillard is the most reliable option in the red zone and leads the team with eight touchdown receptions.
While Akron clearly emphasizes passing in its offense, Jawon Chisholm is a capable tailback. The sophomore has picked up 803 yards on the ground this season after finishing just 39 yards shy of 1,000 last year as a rookie. A shoulder injury kept Chisholm out versus Central Michigan on Oct. 27, but he returned last week to gain 117 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts.
The Zips are not an intimidating team defensively. Bowling Green is the only one of their nine FBS opponents to be held under 30 points. Akron ranks 104th out of 120 FBS programs in total defense with an allowed average of 461.4 yards per game.
Kurt Mangum is the leading tackler with 91 stops, 41 of which are solo. J.D. Griggs is a force up front with 5.5 sacks, which is the eighth most in the MAC.
Akron's offense has proven to be a productive unit, while UMass is completely lost when it has the ball. Bowden and the Zips should be able to pick up their second win of the season, which will double last season's total. Cox needs to be productive for the Minutemen to stand a chance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 42, Massachusetts 17
11/07 10:41:11 ET