Playing games against the FCS has become an annual norm for some of our beloved MAC programs. Akron has played one every season since 2009, and has a 5-1 record in those games. The lone loss came in 2010 to Gardner-Webb in Rob Ianello's first season as head coach.
Thankfully, Akron now has a real football coach who can beat these FCS teams on a regular basis. In three seasons, Terry Bowden's Zips are 3-0 against teams from the FCS. In 2012, Akron beat Morgan State 66-6. In 2013, they beat James Madison 35-33. In 2014, they beat Howard 41-0.
The team that comes to InfoCision Stadium following a week two bye in 2015 are the Savannah State University Tigers. Savannah State had a 2014 season to forget. Just a year after a 1-11 season, the Tigers did not win a single game in 2014. The season began with losses to Middle Tennessee with a 61-7 final, and at Georgia Southern with an 83-9 final.
Georgia Southern out gained the Tigers by 477 yards on the ground alone in that game, as they gave up a total of 684 yards of total offense.
The Tigers also took on BYU from the FBS. That one ended up being similar to the games at Middle Tennessee and Georgia Southers. The Cougars beat the Tigers in a 64-0 shutout. Savannah State gained a total of 63 yards on 51 plays. That comes out to 1.2 yards per play on offense. It doesn't help that they gave up 487 yards of offense.
Akron and Savannah State did have a common opponent in 2014. The Howard Bison opened their season with a 41-0 loss at Akron. In a visit to Ted Wright Stadium in Savannah, Georgia, the Bison took care of the Tigers 51-21. SSU fumbled the ball six times in that game, but only lost one. Twenty-one points was the second highest total for the Tigers all season, but they were still blown out by 30 to a mediocre FCS team.
In 2014, the Tiger used two quarterbacks. Junior Leon Prunty took over a majority of the duties by the end of the season. His best game last year took place in a 14-7 loss to Norfolk State. Prunty went 14-31 for 239 yards and his only touchdown pass of the season.
Tino Smith III began the season as the starting quarterback, but saw his playing time take a hit during midseason.
The leading rusher Richard Williams also returns. On 95 attempts, he netted 370 yards and scored 3 touchdowns with a long of 52 yards. For the season, he averaged just 33 yards per game on the ground.
Savannah State scored 11.4 points per game and gave up 46.4 per game in 2014. It's impossible to pick which unit is actually worse. The defense gave up more than five yards per carry and nine yards per pass attempt on offense. On the flip side, the Tigers rushed for only 922 yards in the entire season.
They bring back some experience for head coach and offensive coordinator Earnest Wilson III, but I have no reason to believe that this team will be able to beat a team like Akron in 2015. That said, I hope they can grab a win, or two, during the season. Going 1-11 is bad enough, 0-12 must be awful.