The Akron Zips head to Oxford needing only one win to become bowl eligible for the second time in 3 seasons, something the Zips have never done. The Miami RedHawks went on an improbable 6 game run to reach a bowl last season, and now must close out 2017 with three straight wins to reach a bowl.
When Akron Has The Ball
Thomas Woodson has been steady this season, but the Zips have struggled to run since the Warren Ball injury. The Zips have failed to score 23 or more in 6 of their games on the season, and their last three.
The Miami defense has been solid this season, except for the head scratchers against Bowling Green and Ohio. The absolute dismantling of the RedHawks by the Bobcats last week could be an indicator of the effort level by Miami the rest of the season. While they are only sitting at 3-6 on the season, their next three games are winnable, Akron and WMU at home, and Ball State on the road.
A solid Miami backfield with Heath Harding and Tony Reid should be able to keep the relatively one dimensional Zips offense in check.
When Miami Has The Ball
Gus Ragland, who started the last 7 games for Miami last season, might be able to go tonight, according to this story from the Dayton Daily News. That could be a huge motivator for the team, and a key to this contest.
The Akron defense has played well all season, and is led by linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III. Gilbert has been a monster and has accounted for 85 tackles, 4 sacks and a couple of picks.
Even with the return of Ragland, I expect both teams will struggle to score points in this game. His ability to usually avoid turnovers could be the deciding factor in this game.
Early in the year, Miami lost a few close games in head scratching fashion. That and injuries have had an affect on the RedHawks, leading to a disapointing season. Since I expect this to be a close, low scoring game, history tells me Miami will lose this. However, the gambler in me thinks Miami is due. I look for the RedHawks to squeak by, 17-14.
How to Watch, Listen, Stream
TV: ESPN 2
Radio: 1350 AM WARF in Akron and 1420 WHK in Cleveland
For the Miami version, WMOH-AM 1450 in Hamilton, and WDBZ-AM 1230 in Cincinnati
Stream: Via the Watch ESPN App where available.