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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 6 Game Notes: Akron Zips at Bowling Green Falcons

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This time a year ago, these two teams met to get their first win of the season. It’s a whole new ball game now.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Bowling Green at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Akron (1-4, 0-1 MAC) looks to get back on track— and prevent starting yet another losing streak— after getting trounced in the first week of the conference season by a seemingly resurgent Bobcats side, and will travel to Bowling Green to take on the BGSU Falcons (2-3, 0-1 MAC) who have turned the narrative on their preseason expectations with a resounding improvement of play.

Here are the details for how to watch the game, and what to know going in:

  • Date and Time: Saturday, October 9th at 12 p.m. Eastern time
  • Network/Streaming: ESPN+ (A valid subscription is required for viewing)
  • Radio: Akron’s radio feed is via WHLO 640 AM, while BGSU’s radio feed is via WFROM 99 FM “The Eagle”.
  • Location: Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Weather: A lovely 69 degrees and partly cloudy skies at kickoff, per Weather.com. 77 percent humidity, with a 14 percent chance of precipitation and a calm. northeasterly wind.
  • Line: BGSU is a 13.5-point favorite, with an over/under of 47, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
  • Series History: BGSU leads the all-time series, with a 18-9 lead on the series as of 2020.
  • Longest BGSU streak: 5 years (2012-16)
  • Longest Akron streak: 2 years (twice; most recently 2005-06.)
  • Last Meeting: The Akron Zips broke a 21-game losing streak against their fellow winless rival Bowling Green, taking a 31-3 home victory on Dec. 5, 2020.

Akron Zips

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Akron at Ohio State Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Offense

  • Points Per Game: 18.6 (t-115th out of 130 FBS teams)
  • Yards Per Game: 325.2 (117th)

Defense

  • Points Per Game Allowed: 27.5 (86th)
  • Yards Per Game Allowed: 357.2 (66th)

Notable Players

  • QB DJ Irons: 71-of-103, 878 yards, eight touchdowns, three interceptions; 60 rush, 240 yards, two touchdowns
  • QB Kato Nelson: 20-of-34, 190 yards, one touchdown in three appearances
  • RB Jonzell Norris: 46 rush, 132 yards
  • RB Blake Hester: 27 rush, 106 yards
  • WR Michael Mathison: 26 receptions, 306 yards, one touchdown
  • WR Konata Mumphield: 22 receptions, 244 yards, four touchdowns
  • LB Bubba Arslenian: 43 tackles, one tackle-for-loss
  • LB Jeslord Boateng: 24 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, .5 sack
  • DB Charles Amankwaa: 14 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, one interception

The Zips have looked laggard in FBS competition this season, though two games against brutal Power 5 opponents in Auburn and Ohio State will tend to tamp down your potential for success.

The issue for Akron, however, is that even against peer competition, they’ve struggled to hold together in clutch situations. Losses against Temple and Ohio were lowlighted by holding leads or keeping up a tie, only to eventually allow a huge rally to the opponent to lost the game. This was the case again last weekend, as Ohio scored 24 unanswered in the third and fourth quarters to get their first win of the season.

Even against Bryant, there were signs that Akron simply has issues when trying to hold a lead of any kind, as they couldn’t dispose of the FCS Bulldogs until the fourth quarter of that contest.

It’s starting to become a problem, as talisman RB Teon Dollard was dismissed weeks before the opening game, and the staff continues to trot out a QB rotation between JUCO transfer DJ Irons and sixth-year senior Kato Nelson, resulting in a disjointed effort. Akron, a Bottom 25 offense, will have a tough assignment to face in the BGSU defense, which is a Top 50 unit in the country as of last week.

The Zips defense, which is about an average unit in terms of defensive yards and points allowed, can’t be expected to prop up the team’s performance forever, as their front seven has only managed five sacks and 17 tackles-for-loss in four games (stats for Akron were last updated on Sept. 26.) Akron’s linebacking corps makes up the majority of their defensive production, collecting 5.5 of the team’s 11 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 of the team’s five sacks.

If there’s one positive to take away for the Zips, it’s placekicker Corey Smigel, who is 12-of-12 on extra point attempts, and 3-of-4 on field goals in 2021, with his only miss from the 40-49 yard range.


Bowling Green Falcons

Bowling Green v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Offense

  • Points Per Game: 17.2 (t-120th out of 130 FBS Teams)
  • Yards Per Game: 277.0 (125th)

Defense

  • Points Per Game Allowed: 21.4 (t-44th)
  • Yards Per Game Allowed: 338.4 (48th)

NOTABLE PLAYERS

  • QB Matt McDonald: 118-of-178 for 1,149 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions; 79 yards gained, three rushing touchdowns
  • RB Jaison Patterson: 39 carries, 120 yards, one touchdown; 7 receptions, 39 yards
  • RB Nick Mosley: 20 carries, 89 yards, one toucdown
  • WR Austin Osborne: 31 receptions, 233 yards
  • WR Tyrone Broden: 18 receptions, 231 yards, two touchdowns
  • LB Darren Anders: 44 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one sack, one interception
  • LB Davon Ferguson: 36 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four pass break-ups
  • DL Walter Haire: 22 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two sacks
  • S Jordan Anderson: 22 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, one interception

Bowling Green looks to continue one of their best seasons in nearly seven years against an Akron team which plastered them just 10 months back in pandemic season play. They’ll certainly have a great shot at it considering their recent form, as they took a MAC East preseason favorite team in Kent State to the wire in a 27-20 loss on Saturday.

Were it not for a walk-off field goal by South Alabama, this is a team entering 3-2 entering today’s contest, and a big reason for that is the team’s defense— a phrase which would have produced laughter this time last season. This unit has improved from the worst in the country to a Top 50 unit basically overnight, as first-year defensive coordinator Eric Lewis took the reins from the since-retired Brian VanGorder.

They’ve been particularly aggressive in the passing game, allowing only 145.2 yards per game through the air, and one touchdown total in five games. In that time, they’ve also nabbed five interceptions by five different players, which has greatly benefitted BGSU’s abilities to force pressure and create close contests. Combine that with 33 tackles-for-loss and 17 sacks, and this is a pressure cooker unit which doesn’t allow for many mistakes,

About their only discernable weakness defensively is in the running game, where they’ve given up an average of approximately 189 yards per game, but they’ll have a very favorable matchup against an Akron unit which has strugled to get to 100 yards on the ground in much of their contests.

On offense, it’s a ball-control unit all the way, relying on short and medium passes from Boston College transfer QB Matt McDonald to maintain possession. McDonald is already over 1,100 passing yards, with two receivers over 200 yards in Austin Osborne and Christian Sims. McDonald is also the leading rusher, with three touchdowns for the Falcons in short-yardage situations. The running game, which could use some improvement, will face a Zips defense which has been gashed in consecutive weeks by strong rushing attacks, giving one of Jaison Patterson or Nick Mosely an opportunity to take over lead back duties.

BGSU, much like Akron, also has a great kicker in Nate Needham, who is 7-of-7 on the year for field goals, including 4-of-4 from 40-49 range and 2-of-2 from 50+.


Kickoff for this game is expected at noon Eastern time, with the game streamed exclusively to ESPN+.