Akron (5-3) at UB (1-6)
7:30 p.m. Thursday at UB Stadium
Radio: 1520 AM. TV: Time Warner Sports
Last time out: UB fell flat at Northern Illinois, 44-7. Akron rallied to beat Ball State, 35-25. Ball State beat UB, 31-21, two weeks ago.
Trending: Akron QB Thomas Woodson (No. 4) returned last week after missing three games due to injury and keyed the win over Ball State, passing for 338 yards. Woodson, a 6-foot-1 junior, is a good athlete who’s showing improvement as a pocket passer. He skewered UB last year for 258 yards in a 42-21 win. Coverage mixups were a problem for UB last year vs. Akron. Woodson led all MAC QBs in rushing yards last year with 600 but he hasn’t run much this season. Backup Tra’Von Chapman (5), a 6-1 junior who started out at Pitt, went 2-1 filling in for Woodson. Akron is averaging 32.6 ppg, UB 14.9.
Stat check: Akron’s defense ranks 11th in the MAC in yards allowed (479 a game), It’s ninth against the run (210) and the pass (269). Can UB take advantage? . . . The Zips have the fewest rushing attempts in the MAC (29 a game). Let’s see if they run more against the UB defense.
Star gazing: Akron has one of the better receiving corps in the MAC, led by JoJo Natson (9) Jerome Lane (7) and Austin Wolf (82). RB Warren Ball (34) is a senior transfer from Ohio State who looked great in the opener. But he has missed the last five games with a cracked fibula. He’s expected back but maybe not this week. Sophomore LB Ulysses Gilbert III (5) is a tackling machine.
At stake: Akron can become bowl-eligible for a second straight season, a first in program history. UB’s collective spirit is in desperate need of a strong performance.
Prediction: Akron 29, UB 17.