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2016 Week 1 Preview: VMI at Akron

Is this the first step of the Zips’ Cinderella season?

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

If you’ve been keeping up with the Belt at all this offseason, you know I am all in on the Akron Zips. Perhaps it’s fool’s gold, but I am still rolling with Zippy to be the surprise MAC East contender and head on to Detroit to represent their division in the MAC Championship.

That magical journey has to start with the first step: a season opener on Saturday against Virginia Military Institute. If you watched college football last night, you see what happens when a favorite taking an underdog lightly mixes in with some moxy in the form of App State’s overtime loss to Tennessee. Of course, Akron isn’t UT but VMI isn’t App State.

Last season saw the Keydets go 2-9 overall, with their only wins coming against Morehead State (sigh) and Mercer. It was just another season of futility for them, as they have never made the FCS playoffs and haven’t had a winning record since 1981. The law of averages says sooner or later they are going to beat someone notable. But like my prom date told me on our special night, “Now isn’t the time for that”.

It is not a peyote induced lucid trip that has me high on the Zips, but rather their immense amount of talent on their roster. Terry Bowden has made Akron a de facto Transfer U, and Jelani Hamilton and Warren Ball look to have an immediate impact. There’s a reason they were on the rosters of Miami and Ohio State respectively. There is a Bowden at the helm, so that means anything is possible, but I’m on TeamTerry and think he’s crazy like a fox on the way to a Detroit den.

VMI comes in looking for their first win in a season opener since 2010 and surprisingly enough they actually have a 1-1 record against Akron with the lone win coming in 1967. The last time they met, a 2011 Akron win, is hopefully more on pace with what’s expected and almost sure to happen. VMI hasn’t won a road opener since 2002.

For Akron, it’s a litmus test of sorts to find out what is functional against a significantly overmatched opponent and what need to be shored up in advance of week 2’s matchup at Wisconsin. The goal for the Zips should be to get a good amount of work in, get some experience for younger players, and cruise to a nice W on opening night in Infocision Stadium. Game kicks at 6:30 and is streambale on ESPN3.