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2020 MAC Football Game Preview: Akron Zips at Ohio Bobcats

Both Akron and Ohio are searching for their first wins of 2020.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Western Michigan at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The first week of the MAC season has come and gone, and the Ohio Bobcats (0-1) and the Akron Zips (0-1) will lock horns on Tuesday to see who will pick up their first win of the season. Ohio is coming off of a tough 30-27 loss to defending MAC West champion Central Michigan. Meanwhile, Akron got walloped 58-13 at home against Western Michigan.

Game Info

When: November 10 (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. EST

Where: Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio

Watch: Watch on CBS Sports Network

Weather: Clear day with a high of 75 degrees and a low of 63 degrees

Odds: The Bobcats are 23.5-point favorites and the over/under is at 57.5 points, per

Series History

Ohio leads the series 22-13-1.

Largest Margin of Victory: A 52-3 Ohio victory in 2019.

Longest Win Streak: The Bobcats won nine consecutive games from 2008 to 2016.

Current Streak: Ohio has won the last two meetings in 2018 and 2019.

The Bobcats

Quick Facts:

Points per game: 27

Points allowed per game: 30

Yards gained per game: 345

Yards allowed per game: 427

In a tough opening night matchup, Kurtis Rourke had a solid first outing as QB for the Bobcats as he went for 231 and two touchdowns through the air against CMU. The brother of former ‘Cats QB Nathan Rourke had some big help from his receivers as Isiah Cox, Shane Hooks, Adam Luehrman, and Cameron Odom all registered catches of 20+ yards. However, the running game only averaged 3.1 yards per carry, the offense failed to stay on the field as it was 4/11 on third down and 0/1 on fourth down, and the OL gave up five sacks.

The defense had a long night as it allowed 184 rushing yards against the Chippewas, but it was able to get stops as they held CMU to 7/18 on third down and 2/5 on fourth down. LB Jeremiah Wood had a solid game as he had seven tackles and a pair of TFLs on the night.

Special teams was a mixed bag for the Green and White as Tristian Vandenberg missed a field goal and an extra point while Jack Wilson averaged under 40 yards per punt on five punts. However, De’Montre Tuggle was a playmaker in the return game as he took a kickoff back 93 yards for a score. Another bright spot is the kickoff coverage as Ohio held CMU to an average of 16 yards.

The Zips

Quick Facts:

Points per game: 13

Points allowed per game: 58

Yards gained per game: 256

Yards allowed per game: 484

Akron certainly did not look like a team that earned a first-place vote in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll as it was held to four yards per play, 4/14 on third down, and 1/2 on fourth down. Zach Gibson struggled in the passing game as he went 18/30 for 125 yards, a touchdown, an interception, a lost fumble, and three sacks.

Despite the woes throwing the ball, the Zips managed to have some success running the ball as Jeremiah Knight and Teon Dollard accounted for 141 rushing yards combined at a 5.2 yards per carry clip. The OL for Akron didn’t have a banner day as they allowed seven TFLs on top of the three sacks, making life pretty miserable for the offense.

The defense got torched against the Broncos pass completions of 68 and 76 yards, while WMU ran wild for 218 yards and four scores. Special teams were solid for the team in navy and gold, as Cory Smigel made both of his field goals and Kyle Romenick averaged 39 yards per punt.


This game doesn’t look that interesting on paper, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Ohio struggles cover the point spread. Despite the huge loss, Akron was able to have success running the football and OU is coming off of a game where it got absolutely gashed on the ground and the defense was unable to create disruption consistently. The Zips are in the same boat defensively, and if they don’t have an answer for Rourke and company in the passing game, it could be a night filled with yards and points.

Ohio eventually wins 37-20 as both teams have a better outing in a must-win game in the MAC East. Ohio has the talent advantage on the offensive side of the ball, and it will prove to be too much for the still-rebuilding Zips.