Two experienced and esteemed coaches face off Saturday when Ohio (3-1, 0-0 MAC) heads to Akron (1-4, 0-1 MAC) for a 2 p.m. kickoff.
The kings of futility, the Akron Zips come in actually having not been blown out of the water in recent games. Bowden's team has lost each of its three last games by scores of 4, 5, and 17, with the four-point loss to then No. 11 Michigan in the Big House. The Zips' lone win come against FCS-memeber James Madison in a nail-biter.
Part of the reason for the Zips new-found competitiveness has been first-year starting QB Kyle Pohl. The sophomore has passed for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns through the air, while talented all-around back Jawon Chisholm leads Akron in rushing yardage with 227. On the defensive side of things, Akron still needs some work. The Zips are giving up a lot of yards per game (450), Akron has done one thing very well defensively this season: cause turnovers. The Zips have five interceptions to their credit and have recovered eight fumbles. Linebacker Justin March leads the team with three picks.
But luckily for Ohio, quarterback Tyler Tettleton has been one of the more efficient starters in the nation in terms of ball control. In 2012 he threw just four interceptions, making him one of the least picked off starters in the country. But the 'Cats are still looking to get their running game on track. Doak Walker candidate Beau Blankenship has the same amount of carries as his backup Ryan Boykin, and the only solid game rushing for the Bobcats came in Week 2 vs. North Texas.
If Ohio is to succeed in MAC play, and against Akron, it will need a young, fairly inexperienced line to get more of a push between the tackles. On defense, the experience lost from last season is proving to be a non-factor for Ohio, with players such as Ben Russell, Jovon Johnson and Devin Bass all stepping up. Captain Keith Moore is taking snaps at linebacker once again after going down on the first drive of the Louisville game. He has not played since. Having Moore at Linebacker will be crucial for Ohio heading into MAC play, especially against a much-improved Akron offense.
Frank Solich discussed Moore's status in his weekly media address. "I would expect with continued improvement this week and he doesn't have any major setback that he should be ready to go."
While Ohio is more experienced on both defense and offense, on special teams these two are fairly even. Akron kicker Robert Stein is 2 for 7 on field goals. Ohio has had issues kicking as well, with Matt Green converting 4-of-9. The Bobcats recently named Josiah Yandani the starting kicker for this weekend's game.
If the Zips can cause the turnovers they've been so successful at, and get Chisholm more involved in the running game, they could find themselves making it a game. But Ohio, one of the more experienced team's in the MAC, will not be taking Bowden's boys lightly.