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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Glass Bowl (26,248) -- Toledo, Ohio Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Akron 1-6, Toledo 4-1. Away Record: Akron 0-4, Toledo 4-2. Neutral Record: Akron 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: Akron 0-7, Toledo 5-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 8-8.
GAME NOTES: Terry Bowden will try to close out his first year at Akron on a positive note when the Zips invade the Glass Bowl on Tuesday for a Mid- American Conference bout with the Toledo Rockets.
Akron comes into its regular-season finale after eight days of rest. The Zips last saw action on Nov. 12 when they suffered a 22-14 setback to Massachusetts in their home closer. The loss was the eighth in a row for Bowden's squad, which is 0-7 versus conference opponents this season. The transition to the new coach's system is not the cause of Akron's struggles this season. The team finished last season with a 1-11 overall record after finishing 0-8 in league games. Coach Terry Bowden has made a positive impact in his inaugural season at the helm of the program despite the possibility of matching 2011's record exactly. 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. While Akron's 9.3 ppg average margin of defeat this season is nothing to cheer about, it is a huge improvement from 2011 when its opponents scored 24.3 ppg more on average.
Toledo broke into the top 25 at the end of October after reeling off eight straight victories. Coach Matt Campbell's team quickly dropped out of the rankings after suffering a 34-27 loss to Ball State its next time out. The Rockets still had a chance to claim the conference's West Division crown last Wednesday, but they could not slow down Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch after halftime and lost their second straight. Toledo still has a lot to play for as 18 of its seniors make their final appearance at the Glass Bowl.
This bout will break the 8-8 tie in the all-time series between Akron and Toledo. These programs have met on the gridiron just twice in the past 14 years.
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. The team's new no-huddle philosophy has led to 435.8 yards and 26.3 points per game. The Zips rank first in the MAC and 14th in the FBS with their 317.1 passing yards per game average after tallying 331 yards through the air versus UMass their last time out.
Senior Dalton Williams came to Akron as a relatively unknown transfer from Stephen F. Austin with just a single year of eligibility remaining. Bowden may have gotten four year's worth of throws out of his senior passer this season. Williams is averaging just over 47 attempts per game and has a 25-to-16 touchdown-to- interception ratio. He will be looking to bounce back from the loss to the Minutemen in which he threw a season-worst four interceptions.
Williams's favorite target is Marquelo Suel, who has tallied 790 receiving yards and five touchdowns through 11 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 and will most likely get a few extra carries in this one. The sophomore has picked up 906 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 has surpassed the century mark in both games since returning.
The Zips are not an intimidating team defensively. UMass became just the second of its 10 FBS opponents to be held under 30 points. Akron ranks 98th out of 120 FBS programs in total defense with an allowed average of 449.2 yards per game.
Kurt Mangum is the leading tackler with 100 stops, 43 of which are solo. J.D. Griggs is a force up front with 5.5 sacks, which is the 11th most in the MAC.
Toledo has a very balanced and effective offensive attack. The Rockets have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard, but they have been held under 30 points in each of their past four outings. The Rockets are ranked fifth in the conference in scoring (32.7 ppg) and third in total offense (455.8 ypg).
David Fluellen was a big part of the team's run at the conference title. The junior running back finished with 79 yards and a touchdown versus NIU his last time out, which snapped his six-game streak of eclipsing the century mark. Fluellen is fourth in the FBS in rushing after piling up 1,460 yards and 13 touchdowns on 250 carries.
The Rockets' aerial attack features two of the MAC's most productive wideouts in speedy Bernard Reedy and Alonzo Russell. Reedy leads the MAC with 1,032 yards on 68 receptions. The junior wideout has also collected multiple West Division Special Teams Player of the Week awards for his efforts in the return game. Russell is more of a big play type of receiver with 786 yards on only 45 receptions.
Terrance Owens was steady as a game manager for the majority of the season, but he tied his career-high with three interceptions versus the Huskies with a trip to the MAC Championship on the line. The quarterback threw three interceptions all of last season as a sophomore, but his junior year total of 2,677 yards on 209-of-333 passing is a huge improvement.
Toledo's defense held the deadly NIU offense in check up until halftime last week, but as many opponents have found out, there was not stopping Lynch and the Huskies. NIU finished the contest with just under 600 yards of total offense. The Rockets are only 10th in the MAC in total defense (476.1 ypg), but are fifth in points allowed (27.7 ppg) because of their tendency to create turnovers.
The Rockets are led by the nation's leading tackler, Dan Molls, who has already recorded 148 total stops. Molls made 16 tackles and recorded his third interception of the season last time out. Jermaine Robinson has made some spectacular plays as well and is tied for second in the MAC with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
Campbell's first season with the Rockets has been pretty impressive. Toledo will solidify its chances of being extended a bowl invitation with its ninth win of the season. On the other side, Bowden's first campaign was difficult for the one time Auburn head coach, who is not use to losing. The Zips are a team to keep an eye on over the next couple of years, but Akron fans may want to look away from the action in this regular-season finale.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 49, Akron 10
11/20 10:33:28 ET