Another week, another simulation to run to see if art can imitate life! If you’re unafamiliar with NCAAFPTF, here’s a brief explainer on how we make it all work.
Last week, NCAA Football 2014 predicted a victory for EMU on the road to keep their slim bowl hopes alive by a final score of 33-27. The real game didn’t quite go to plan, though EMU did show some grit towards the end, eventually falling by a final score of 42-30.
This puts the CPU at a stellar 1-7 on the season, as the EA Curse once again came to light on a weeknight. In terms of the over/under, the sim predicted 12 less points than what was actually scored, once again plummeting our O/U counter to -240.
If you could bet on this action, I’d suggest the over, and betting it often.
There were only two games eligible this week due to restrictions, so the voting came down to Ohio vs. Akron and Buffalo vs. Ball State. Akron makes their first appearance on NCAAPTF of the season, while Ohio appears for the first time since Oct. 13, when they faced the BGSU Falcons.
On a cold and clear Wednesday night, it was the Ohio Bobcats (9-2, 6-1 MAC) who defended home field and clinched a trip to Detroit with a convincing 29-13 win over the Akron Zips (5-6, 4-3 MAC.)
Akron managed to get the better of Ohio on the defensive side of the ball, as the normally high-octane Ohio was limited to 358 yards of offense and two touchdowns while forcing three turnovers, but simply could not convert drives into points.
Nathan Rourke was responsible for both Ohio touchdowns on the day, passing for one and rushing for another as he accumulated 310 total yards of offense for the Bobcats, leading in carries (17) and completing 14-of-20 passes.
It was Akron who drew first blood, using just 1:50 to get Van Edwards Jr. in the endzone on a 7-yard carry to make the score 7-0. Ohio responded on the next two drives in a row, courtesy of a 43-yard Louie Zervos field goal and a two-yard Nathan Rourke touchdown run to leave the score at 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
It was deja vu in the next act, as Akron quickly placed points on the board after stalling in the red zone with a Nick Gasser 26-yard field goal to tie the game at the 5:15 mark of the second quarter. Ohio (again) responded with 10 straight points, with a 49-yard Zervos field goal and a 40-yard passing touchdown from Rourke to Jarrid Marhefka to again push the score to 20-10 with :49 to go in the first half.
It was a defensive battle from there, as both teams had to settle for field goals the rest of the game, with Gasser hitting one from 40 yards out (and missing from 45 yards out) while Zervos went for three field goals from 48, 31 and 52 yards out respectively.
What really turned the tide for the game was Ohio’s ability to get pressure on Akron’s quarterbacks early and often. The Bobcats reached Thomas Woodson and Kato Nelson six times to kill multiple drives, including a sack fumble, while Ohio did not give up one sack all game. Ohio was also stout on fourth down, keeping the Zips to just one of three on attempted conversions.
Akron also gave the game away towards the end, with two interceptions in the second half. That killed any offensive momentum they may have had, as the Zips dominated the Ohio defense in total yards, including 300 yards through the air and were able to set the tempo on third down, converting 7-of-17 in the scenario.
Thomas Woodson finished the day 30-of-47 for 291 yards and two interceptions on the day, while backup QB Kato Nelson managed one completion for nine yards and two sacks in consecutive plays in relief duty on one drive for the Zips.
Woodson was also the rushing leader for the Zips, collecting 17 carries for 53 yards, while Manny Morgan had five carries for 37 yards and Van Edwards Jr. had seven carries for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Tra’Von Chapman led all receivers with 80 yards receiving on six receptions for Akron. Kwadarrius Smith tied for the game-high of six carries for 42 yards. Austin Wolf (four receptions for 39 yards) and Manny Morgan had four receptions for 23 yards.
Ulysees Gilbert III (seven tackles all solo, four tackles for loss) and Darius Dailey (one interception for eight yards) led the way for an Akron defense which struggled to contain the Bobcats on offense.
AJ Ouelette attained a game-high 68 yards on 17 carries for the Bobcats, with Rourke collecting 40 yards on the ground as well. Ouelette also led in receptions for Ohio (4) gaining 24 yards. Papi White Jr. was limited to two receptions for 41 yards on the night. Brendan Cope led in receiving yards on a 77-yard reception.
Trent Smart and Quentin Poling (who also had 12 total tackles, five tackles for loss) both collected two sacks, while Cleon Aloese and Jamal Hudson had one sack each to lead the Bobcat attack on defense. Jalen Fox picked up two interceptions as well and Jovon Hagan finished with 10 tackles and a tackle for loss.