Radio: 1520 AM. TV: CBS Sports Network.
Last time out: UB was outmuscled by Northern Illinois, 41-30. Akron defeated Miami, 37-28. Comparing scores, UB routed Ohio and played Bowling Green tough (a 28-22 loss). Akron lost to Ohio (14-12) and was crushed by Bowling Green (59-10). Both Akron and UB lost to Central Michigan, but Akron played the Chippewas much tougher.
Trending: It’s another difficult matchup for the UB offense. Akron’s defense ranks No. 3 in the nation against the run, allowing just 93.7 yards a game. Teams are gaining yards via the air on Akron (249 a game), but it’s at a cost. Akron is second in the Mid-American Conference in sacks (25) and tied for fourth in INTs (11). . . . Akron’s passing game is weak. The Zips are 12th in passing yards and completion percentage, and just 10th in points scored (22.6 a game).
Stat check: Akron’s 69-year-old defensive coordinator, Chuck Amato, is in his 43rd year coaching college football and has enjoyed 34 winning seasons. Amato was Bobby Bowden’s defensive guru at Florida State from 1982 to 1999 and helped the Seminoles win two national titles in that stretch. He went 49-37 in seven seasons as head coach at North Carolina State, where he had Philip Rivers as his QB. Now he’s working for Bowden’s son, 59-year-old Terry.
Star gazing: The Akron studs are on the defensive side. Linebacker Jatavis Brown (No. 1) leads the MAC in sacks with 10.5 Nose tackle Cody Grice (No. 36) is a 275-pound disruptor in the middle. Defensive end Jamal Marcus (No. 34) is an athletic speed rusher coming off right tackle. Those three will be a handful for UB’s offensive line. Maybe UB can work some misdirection plays. There will be a lot of pressure on Joe Licata to get rid of the ball on time. . . . Akron runs on 58 percent of its plays. QB Thomas Woodson (No. 13) is hitting only 52 percent of his passes, but he’s a running threat, with 519 yards gained on the ground.
At stake: The winner becomes bowl eligible. The loser needs to win next week against a lesser foe (Akron plays Kent, UB plays UMass) to be bowl eligible. UB receivers coach Rob Ianello was head coach at Akron in 2010 and 2011, but the Zips fired him after two 1-11 seasons. A dozen of Akron’s senior starters (there are 16 senior starters in all) were Ianello recruits. Akron would like to avenge a major egg-laying at UB last year (a 55-24 loss). For both teams, it would be nice to win the last two and go to a bowl game feeling like you earned it.
Prediction: UB 20, Akron 17.