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2023 MAC Football Week 8 Game Preview: Akron Zips at Bowling Green Falcons

Akron looks to show signs of life against an up-and-down Bowling Green squad.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Buffalo at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Bowling Green Falcons (3-4, 1-2 MAC) are set to play host against a MAC East division opponent in the Akron Zips (1-6, 0-3 MAC) this upcoming Saturday, with a lot on the line for both teams.

The Falcons can return to the graces of a .500 record and make hay for a potential bowl bid with a victory, while the Zips would stop a five-game losing streak and keep their slim hopes for the postseason alive should they find a way to pull off the upset.

Let’s get into the notes and outlooks:

Game notes

  • Time and date: Saturday, October 21st, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time
  • Network: ESPN+ (subscription required)
  • Location: Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Gambling considerations: Bowling Green favored by 8, with an over/under of 39.5 per DraftKings
  • All-time series: Bowling Green leads 19-10 all-time, with the Zips and Falcons have split the last 6 matchups.
  • Last Meeting: Bowling Green def. Akron 31-28 on Oct. 1, 2022.

What Happened Last Time?

Bowling Green traveled to Akron on the first day of October 2022. Matt McDonald and DJ Irons each threw three touchdown passes. The difference was an early field goal from Mason Lawler that led the Falcons to a 31-28 victory.

That win broke an ugly streak for the Falcons, as they had not won their MAC opener in a season since 2015. Akron had won two straight against Bowling Green prior to that loss last year.

Bowling Green Falcons outlook

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Bowling Green at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons got their first MAC win against Buffalo last week in a fairly convincing 24-14 game.

Quarterback play is once again going to be the spotlight of the game this week. Camden Orth got the start last week, and got the offense going despite throwing two interceptions. It’s obvious what Orth brings to the field. He can move the offense down the field. Bazelak, should he play, seems to do well once the pressure is off his shoulders.

The Falcons are proving that running the ball is doing wonders for them. Terion Stewart continues to pace the rushing attack with 539 yards and four touchdowns. The Falcons currently sit at 971 rushing yards. 2022 saw the Falcons accumulate 1,283 rushing yards. Bowling Green is on pace to improve their rushing yardage total. Also worth noting that Stewart ranks third in FBS for rushes of 10+ yards (25).

The Falcons defense continues to play well. They give up 337.9 yards/game (fourth in MAC), 189.4 average pass yards allowed (fifth in MAC), 148.4 average rush yards allowed (6th in MAC), and 26.6 average points allowed (sixth in MAC). Joseph Sipp remains the leading tackler for the Falcons with 51 total tackles. Cashius Howell still leads the Falcons with 2.5 sacks. Jalen Huskey leads with three interceptions, while Jordan Oladokun, Avi McGary, and Davon Ferguson have two a piece.

Special teams continue to thrive at BG with another blocked punt at Buffalo. Don’t be surprised if BG’s special teams can affect Akron.

“As soon the offense can figure out how to protect the ball cleanly, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Scot Loeffler noted in his weekly presser. That’s in reference to BG leading FBS in takeaways— but also leading FBS in turnovers. This is a great chance for the Falcons to get right on offense and clean it up.

Akron Zips outlook

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Buffalo at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It feels like we’re a broken record whe we say it, but Akron has been one of the unluckiest teams in college football this season. Four games have been decided by one possession, including last week’s 17-10 loss to Central Michigan, with only their lone win of the season vs. Morgan State going positive.

Akron’s offense produces 280.1 yards/game (10th in MAC) , 182.4 passing yards/game (eighth in MAC) and 97.7 rush yards/game (last in MAC). DJ Irons took most of the work in the passing and rushing games, but unfortunately went down with an ACL injury. Akron now relies on Jeff Undercuffler and Tahj Bullock to play at quarterback of late. Bullock picked up his second career start last week vs. Central before getting benched in the fourth quarter for Undercuffler, who led a late touchdown rally.

It’s to be determined who starts under center this week.

Akron’s rushing attack is led by Lorenzo Lingard with 332 yards and one touchdown. He can also receive the ball, hauling in 19 receptions for 195 yards with one touchdown.

The Zips have a duo of receivers over 200 yards. Jasaiah Gathings leads the way with 234 receiving yardsm, while Daniel George is right behind with 224 receiving yards.

Akron’s defense has piled up 15 sacks. CJ Nunnally IV leads the defense with five of those sacks. They’ve also racked up six interceptions, with KJ Martin and Devonte Golden-Nelson both leading the way with two interceptions each.

Head coach Joe Moorhead noted conference parity in his weekly presser, saying “[t]he parity in the MAC is something that makes the conference very unique and special.” He knows anything can happen, and it shows with their close losses.

Game Outlook

What does each team need to do?

For Bowling Green, do not overlook Akron. As mentioned previously, Akron has had four one-possession losses. They are just a couple plays away from having a different story told this season. BG got the monkey off their back in conference play, but they need to keep playing at their best level throughout the remainder of their schedule

For Akron, they need to do enough to hang around and get some momentum for their midweek MACtion.

Bowling Green is too good of a team to drop this game. I expect them to come out swinging. Akron will put up a fight early, but the Falcons will pull away for MAC win number two.

Score Prediction: Bowling Green 34 - Akron 14