A 5-7 season is nothing to smile about for the majority of college football teams across the country. Your team isn't going to a bowl game, your coach might be getting fired, and the fans are left wondering what went wrong. For the Akron Zips, it was a step forward from the years of absolute futility and regularly being considered one of the worst football teams in all of the FBS. Let's take a look at some of the highs and lows of the 2013 season.
Zips Football Schedule
|@ Central Florida||Thu 08/29||L 7 - 38|
|James Madison||Sat 09/07||W 35 - 33|
|@ Michigan||Sat 09/14||L 24 - 28|
|Louisiana||Sat 09/21||L 30 - 35|
|@ Bowling Green||Sat 09/28||L 14 - 31|
|Ohio||Sat 10/05||L 3 - 43|
|@ Northern Illinois||Sat 10/12||L 20 - 27|
|@ Miami (Ohio)||Sat 10/19||W 24 - 17|
|Ball St.||Sat 10/26||L 24 - 42|
|Kent St.||Sat 11/02||W 16 - 7|
|@ UMass||Sat 11/16||W 14 - 13|
|Toledo||Fri 11/29||W 31 - 29|
LOW: Losing to UCF 38-7
It took two plays to crush Akron's hopes in the season opener as Blake Bortles threw a 91 yard touchdown and the Golden Knights never looked back. Bortles was unstoppable throughout the game eviscerating Akron's defense and the Zips' offense narrowly avoided a shutout by scoring in the final minute of the game. The loss is not as bad in retrospect as UCF had a terrific season and Bortles is considered a top NFL prospect.
HIGH: Near Upset of Michigan
Akron came into this game after barely defeating FCS James Madison and Michigan was coming off a win versus Notre Dame. A Michigan blowout was seemingly in the cards and an Akron victory would have been an even bigger upset (in terms of point spread) than the famous 2007 Appalachian State - Michigan game.
The Zips were every part Michigan's equal throughout the game in a thrilling match-up that came down to the final play. Kyle Pohl led the final Zips' drive to the two yard line before coming up short in the upset attempt. The end result was deflating, but the Zips went into Michigan's house and showed they could compete with Big Ten talent for 60 minutes.
HIGH: Akron's Hype Videos
I'm a sucker for hype videos, Breaking Bad, the WWE, and Akron football. Luckily someone decided to combine all of my favorite things.
LOW: Losing to Ohio 43-3
The only truly embarrassing loss for the Zips came in their homecoming game as they fell to the Bobcats 43-3. We're used to the sort of Jekyll and Hyde performances from Ohio, but it's still perplexing to see them dominate Akron so convincingly. Akron moved to 1-5 after this loss hitting a definite low point for the season. The silver lining here is that Akron hit their low point in Week 6 while the past three seasons were just one giant low point.
HIGH: Defeating Miami 24-17
The Redhawks were an atrocity this year finishing 0-12, but the rarity of a Zips win is always worth celebrating. Akron ended a series of unbelievably bad losing streaks with the win and this was the monkey off the back that allowed Akron to finish strong.
HIGH: Upsetting Toledo 31-29 to End Regular Season
Akron capped off their best season in years by upsetting the Toledo Rockets and knocking them out of a bowl game appearance. The Zips' wins up until the season finale were against an FCS team and the three bottom feeders of the MAC East. They proved they could compete with and defeat an upper-echelon MAC team.
The Zips ended the 2013 season with more than highs than low and have to be confident they can take another step forward in 2014. The Terry Bowden regime enters its third year and will continue to improve as their recruits are further implemented into the system. The concern entering 2013 was the departure of Dalton Williams and having to insert a new QB. Kyle Pohl struggled early in the season, but proved himself as the leader of the Zips going forward. Bowden has the confidence in Pohl and he is cemented as the starter for 2014. The goal for the Zips in 2014 is to compete with the top teams in the MAC and *gasp* become bowl eligible. A year ago, the term bowl-eligible and the Zips felt like galaxies apart.