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2016 MAC Football Previews: Miami RedHawks vs. Akron Zips

Can Miami pull off the road upset against the MAC East favorite?

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Akron v Utah State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

This week will be a battle of teams who are trending in different directions as the Akron Zips (3-2, 1-0 MAC) are the frontrunners in the MAC East with a hard-earned 31-27 victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes in their rivalry game last week, while the Miami RedHawks (0-5, 0-1 MAC) hasn’t been able to get a break so far this season with the last four losses coming in games that were one-score contests in the fourth quarter.

With Tommy Woodson likely out, Tra’Von Chapman will man the quarterback position after a lackluster performance at Kent State, where he completed 39% of his passes for 237 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a pair of sacks. Akron’s ground game was effective with 4.4 yards per carry on 32 rushes even though the team only held the ball for a little over 22 minutes (going 3-of-12 on third down will result in having a low time of possession). The defense allowed 400+ yards of offense to the Flashes but forced six punts, a turnover on downs, and a missed field goal, which proved to be the difference in the game.

Meanwhile, the RedHawks are in a bad way at quarterback with true freshman Noah Wezensky getting action against the Ohio Bobcats last week after Billy Bahl left in the second quarter and will start at Akron. Wezensky wasn’t terrible with 154 yards and a score on 56% completed, but the 4.4 yards per attempt isn’t good for an offense that needs consistent production out of the passing game. With Bahl, Gus Ragland, and Jordan Martin all out at QB this week, true freshman receiver Jack Sorenson will be Wezensky’s backup this week.

Defensively, the ‘Hawks played its best game of the season with only 56 passing yards allowed and only one offensive touchdown given up despite Ohio having an average starting field position of around their 40-yard line. Austin Gearing had his best game at defensive end since converting from quarterback as he had a pair of sacks against the ‘Cats last week.

There might be a chance for a letdown this week for Akron as it is coming off of a physical match-up with Kent State and a huge showdown looming next week with Western Michigan coming to town. However, it’s hard to see Miami’s offense moving the ball well enough to win the field position battle and give their defense a chance, so it’s a game that the Zips should win.