When and where: November 20, 2019, Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH, 7:30 PM ET
The winless Akron Zips will attempt to rid themselves of the goose egg on their record in Wednesday’s Mid-American Conference clash with the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. After a shaky start to the season, the Redhawks surged to the top of their division with a 5-1 conference record. They are coming off four consecutive wins over Bowling Green, Ohio, Kent State and Northern Illinois. The Zips, on the other hand, were blown off their home-field in a 42-14 loss to Eastern Michigan.
Akron might finish the season winlessIt may be time to start looking at reality and leave the pipe dream hopes of an Akron victory in the garbage after watching them get dumped on by Eastern Michigan. They hosted an opponent with a 2-4 conference record and still managed to get blown out.
The Zips know they stink. Coach Tom Arth knows the Zips stink. The fans know the Zips stink.
If a grim reality of going winless isn’t enough to force an awakening on Wednesday, I don’t know what else could do it.
The Redhawks are the only team in the conference with a worse offense than the Zips. Despite their struggles on both sides of the ball, Akron has at least been decent at times on defense. They rank as the fifth-best team in yards allowed (400.9), but that statistic has been overshadowed by them giving up 36.3 points per game.
Of course, part of the reason for those struggles is the offense being turnover-prone and constantly putting the defense on a short field. Nelson and the rest of the Zips’ offense must limit turnovers to even have a shot in this game. They have given up a total of 24 turnovers with 12 fumbles and 12 interceptions going on the road against a Redhawks team with 18 takeaways this season.
There may not be any help coming at tight end, either. The return of Maverick Wolfley remains up in the air for this game as he continues to work his way back from an injury.
Bester becoming a touchdown machineThere is no better fix for a stagnant offense than getting back to the basics of smash-mouth football. Granted, the Redhawks are far from being the type of team to create long-sustained drives by running it down an opponent’s throat. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the team they should strive to be.
Running back Jaylon Bester has looked electric at times with the ball in his hands, and he has averaged two rushing touchdowns in three of his last four games.
He should see plenty of carries in Wednesday’s game against a Zips team allowing 207.3 rushing yards per game. Redhawks quarterback Brett Gabbert has struggled all season, and those struggles will continue if the team puts the game in his hands. For all of Akron’s problems, their defensive secondary has held up well against the pass by limiting opposing quarterbacks to 193.6 yards per game. The Redhawks need less Gabbert and more Bester to blow this game out of the water.
There is no need in getting pass-happy after Gabbert’s strong showing against Bowling Green.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redhawks must be opportunistic. There’s always a good chance the Zips are going to cough up a couple of turnovers. It’ll fall on the Redhawks to capitalize on the mistakes when they happen and make the Zips pay for it like every other team has this season.
Defensive backs Mike Brown and Travion Banks have seven combined interceptions on the season. So they’ll be flying around in the defensive backfield eager to pounce on any poorly thrown ball from Nelson.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Zips are 3-14 ATS in their last 17 games following an ATS loss.
- Zips are 3-14 ATS in their last 17 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Zips are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.
- Zips are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games in November.
- Redhawks are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 home games against a team with a losing road record.
- Redhawks are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games in November.
- Redhawks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Redhawks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games on field turf.