It's Black Friday and that means it's time for more football. One of the highlights of today's MAC football slate is the Battle for the Wagon Wheel between the Akron Zips (6-5, 4-3 MAC) and the Kent State Golden Flashes (3-8, 2-5 MAC).
Despite Akron being on a three-game winning streak and Kent State being on a four-game losing streak, none of that matters when it's a rivalry. Going into last year's game, the Zips were 5-6 overall and the Flashes were 1-9, but Kent outplayed Akron in just about every aspect and won that game 27-24.
This year, the Zips have fielded their best team since 2005, as last week's 42-21 dominance of Buffalo gave Akron its highest win total since they were MAC champions back in 2005. Kent State had a promising start, but haven't looked remotely as good in any of the last four weeks. They have averaged 10.4 points per game during MAC play with a high of 20 and they've been shut out twice. They have one of the MAC's top defenses, but haven't been remotely close to backing it up with points on offense.
The Zips have struggled on offense at times, too, but explosive capabilities of quarterback Thomas Woodson and wide receiver Jerome Lane have helped the Akron offense put up big enough numbers to cover for one of the MAC's top defenses in six games this year.
Players to watch
Kent State QB George Bollas/Colin Reardon: Offensive coordinator and head coach Paul Haynes haven't figured out how to put points on the board this season no matter who is behind center. The two have combined for just 1,532 yards with 9 touchdowns and 10 picks thrown on the season.
Kent State RB Trayion Durham: Why Durham doesn't get more carries is beyond me. He averages just 11 carries per game when rushing for over 4 yards per carry. Akron has a top five run defense in the nation, so if Durham can make a difference, the Flashes could put points on the board.
Akron QB Thomas Woodson: Always pay attention to Woodson when watching the Zips. He's still raw and inexperienced, but the sophomore is the main reason that Akron's offense has become respectable again.
Akron RB Donnell Alexander: When Conor Hundley came out with an injury last week, Alexander stepped in to help run the clock out. He was outstanding. With the help of his offensive line, the Colorado State transfer gained 143 yards and ran for two scores with over 100 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter. He may not get that many carries today, but he deserves the recognition.
Quick Game Info
Akron leads the All-time series 31-24-2. Kent State won the last meeting in 2014 by a 27-24 final.
Game time, date: Kickoff is at NOON EST on Friday November 27.
Location: InfoCision Stadium (capacity 30,000) in Akron, Ohio
Odds: Akron -10.5. More college football odds can be found here.