Ohio University (3-1) at Akron (1-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 5, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: InfoCision Stadium (30,000) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Ohio 3-0, Akron 1-1. Away Record: Ohio 0-1, Akron 0-3. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, Akron 0-0. Conference Record: Ohio 0-0, Akron 0-1. Series Record: Ohio leads, 16-12-1.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio University Bobcats take aim at their fourth win in a row as they begin their Mid-American Conference season against the Akron Zips at InfoCision Stadium.
Since falling, 49-7, at Louisville in their season opener, the Bobcats have shown they are a viable contender for the 2013 MAC Championship. Ohio defeated a pair of Conference USA opponents in North Texas (27-21) and Marshall (34-31) before its 38-0 shutout of Austin Peay in week four. Coach Frank Solich's team has won its last two MAC openers.
Although it enters with a 1-4 record through five games, Akron has shown it has made huge strides in 2013. The Zips split their first two games, losing at UCF (38-7) and beating James Madison (35-33). They nearly pulled off a huge upset of Michigan the following week, falling 28-24 to the Wolverines after Kyle Pohl's pass to Zach D'Orazio as time expired fell incomplete in the end zone. Coach Terry Bowden's squad then lost a heartbreaker to Louisiana (35-30) before being dispatched, 31-14, by Bowling Green it its MAC opener last week.
Akron has lost five straight and six of its last seven matchups against Ohio. The Bobcats won 34-28 last year in Athens to improve to 16-12-1 all-time versus the Zips.
The Bobcats racked up a season-best 494 yards of total offense against APSU in their last appearance and scored on their opening series for the third consecutive week. Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton was nearly perfect, connecting on 13-of-15 pass attempts for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Thanks to the effort, he became the only player in school history to surpass 7,000 passing yards in a career and improved to 21-9 as a starter.
Ohio had several players get into the mix on offense against APSU. Matt Waters reeled in two touchdown catches, while Chase Cochran racked up a game-high 84 receiving yards. Das'mond Patterson led the Bobcats on the ground with 94 yards on seven rushes. On the season, Ryan Boykin and Beau Blankenship are tied for the team-lead with 51 rushing attempts each and combine for 95 yards per game. Cochran has amassed a team-best 273 receiving yards on 16 catches. Donte Foster and Waters both make a consistent impact as well.
The Bobcats' defense held an opponent scoreless for the first time under the nine-year veteran Solich last time out. Ohio has been up and down on the defensive side of the ball. It was no match for Louisville and gave up 615 offensive yards to the Cardinals in week one. Ohio also allowed 482 total yards to Marshall, but registered four takeaways to keep the Thundering Herd at bay. Ohio has the third lowest points per game allowed average (25.2) among MAC schools and is fourth in the conference in total defense (423.5 ypg). Sophomore linebacker Ben Russell is having a breakout season as he paces the team with 28 total tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Ohio is going to have its secondary tested by Akron, which has the third most productive passing offense in the MAC at 280 ypg. The Zips took a 14-3 lead after Pohl rushed three yards for a touchdown just over nine minutes after the opening kickoff last week at Bowling Green. Akron only had one drive go for more than 25 yards in the second half, while the Falcons posted 28 consecutive points. Pohl hit on 22-of-37 pass attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown. The recipient of the touchdown pass, L.T. Smith, tallied 89 yards on five catches. The Zips were limited to 97 yards rushing and had possession of the ball for only 23:57.
Akron's lead back is junior Jawon Chisholm, who came up 47 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark in 2012. He managed only 28 yards on nine carries against the Falcons and now has 227 yards on the season. The Zips have a handful of capable targets in the aerial attack with five players having caught at least 11 passes through five games.
The Zips had trouble getting BGSU off the field and failed to record any takeaways last week. The Falcons amassed 428 yards of total offense despite six sacks by Akron. The team has taken down the opposing quarterback 15 times already, however it will be tough to keep that pace against Ohio's offensive line that has given up only three sacks all season. C.J. James was unstoppable against BGSU and finished with eight tackles and three sacks.
On the season, Akron is allowing 451 yards and 33 points per game. It surrendered averages of 462.4 total yards and 39.8 points through its first five games in 2012.
Akron has not defeated an FBS opponent under the second-year Bowden yet. That streak is most likely going to end before the conclusion of this season as the Zips are clearly catching up to the rest of the MAC. However, Bowden will have to wait for that victory as his squad faces one of the most balanced teams in the conference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 31, Akron 20
10/02 10:33:38 ET