The best part of your favorite MAC team playing a team from the FCS is that it is usually a pretty easy win. Maybe not against the James Madisons and North Dakota States of the world, but many FCS teams can't touch the MAC right now.
One of those is Savannah State. The Tigers will make the trip to InfoCision Stadium--Summa Field on Saturday, September 12 at noon.
It's been a while since the Tigers won a game. The last time Savannah State came out on top was wayyyyy back in September of 2013 in a 27-20 win against Division II Fort Valley State University. The current losing streak stands at 22, with the last loss coming to Colorado State in week one by a 65-13 final. It didn't go too well, as the Tigers were outgained 598-183 and fumbled five times.
Akron has had struggles of their own as well this year. They aren't even remotely on the same level of severity, but there is a bit of concern despite the season being just two weeks old. A week one loss at Oklahoma was pretty much expected, but a 24-7 loss at home to Pittsburgh in week two wasn't. It isn't that a loss--or 17 point loss--was unexpected, but the way it happened was surprising. Akron was only able to rack up 110 total yards with the lone touchdown coming on a 32-yard run by Conor Hundley in the second quarter.
The offensive line, which was one of the most experienced units on the team coming into the season, has given up 15 tackles for loss in an offensive system that stresses running the ball effectively. The line isn't the only struggling unit, though. The quarterbacks Tra'Von Chapman and Kyle Pohl haven't helped much. They have combined for just 151 passing yards, which comes from struggling to run the ball, which comes from a porous offensive line. The lack of playmakers on offense has been clear so far, but a game against Savannah State can help boost confidence as MAC play approaches.
Also, after a big hit on Saturday, Kyle Pohl WILL NOT play in week 3.
Akron Zips football: Kyle Pohl out; Thomas Woodson moves into QB rotation - UA Zips - Ohio http://t.co/h4Lru8GSMs— George Thomas (@GeorgeThomasABJ) September 15, 2015
The Akron offense will definitely have an opportunity to move the ball a little bit. Savannah State hasn't given up fewer than 60 points to an FBS squad since 2012. Will Akron be able to put up 60? I'd lean more toward no, but this week's opponent is a significant step down from the last two.
Akron's defense has been relatively strong in the first two games, which was expected. One of the things that the defense can't control is how much support it gets from the offense. Jatavis Brown led the way against Pitt with 16 total tackles, including 2.5 sacks. Another top performer on Chuck Amato's defense is senior linebacker Dylan Evans, who has finally gotten that opportunity to start with the departure of Justin March. In two games, with 24 total tackles, which leads the team.
The Tiger offense is led by quarterback Tino Smith, who threw 6-14 for 50 yards, a pick, and was sacked 4 times. Running back Richard Williams II led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 73 yards, including a nice 63 yard touchdown run. The 13 points scored against Colorado State is more than Akron has scored in two games this year (10).
I, normally, would rather Akron not play an FCS team in non-conference play in order to better prepare for the conference schedule. This time is different. The Zips need a confidence booster, and a big win could help the offense 'break the ice' and gain confidence heading toward conference play.
The game kicks off at noon EST on Saturday, September 19 and will be streamed on ESPN3.