For me, last year's Indiana game was devastating.
It had such great hype. We were favored. The crowd was supposed to be huge.
We came out flat, of course, and without our starting quarterback. Attendance was disappointing, as well. I had my first thoughts of, "Man, what if we just made a huge mistake building this stadium?"
To clear up my position, I'm glad we built the stadium. It was either that or pouring tens of millions into the Rubber Bowl. My point in saying this is, that was a depressing game.
Anyhow, Saturday at 1 p.m. should be a grudge match of sorts.
Indiana has started off against two lesser teams (Towson and Western Kentucky). Western Kentucky, ironically, has now played both Indiana and Kentucky. It lost to Kentucky by 35, and lost to Indiana by 17. The Hoosiers played that game on the road.
Let's delve deeper into the "WKU Factor." The Hilltoppers (yeah, I know their nickname) gave up 3.2 yards per carry against Indiana and 4.7 against UK. WKU gave up 366 passing yards against the Hoosiers and 276 against the Wildcats. The Hilltoppers managed about the same amount of yardage in both games. A lot of it was rushing.
I think the "teachable moment" of looking at the WKU numbers is that UK and IU are teams of similar talent. Like the UK game, Akron is a big (22.5-point) underdog.
Let's keep it real; the Zips deserve it. Akron's status in the college football world is bad. Here is what one writer had to say about the Zips, and I don't think he's even trying to be mean.
There are 120 teams in FBS (Division I-A). The Zips rank #95 or worse in every major offensive category: total offense, total defense, passing offense, passing defense, and so on. The one positive is that the Zips are in the black on turnovers, but in a way, that makes the other numbers look even worse. And, if anything, the Zips' offensive stats are exaggerated by the slugfest against Gardner-Webb. Akron managed only 172 yards of offense against Kentucky and only 166 yards against Syracuse. Akron's only touchdown against FBS competition came in the final two minutes, in garbage time, against Kentucky.
Indiana's strength is its passing game. Quarterback Ben Chappell was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against WKU on Saturday (366 yards and 3 TDs). Their running game isn't so strong, though.
This post has been sort of disjointed, but I'll be frank. It's not easy to break down a football game like this. Here is the real message I'd like to convey: Lower your sights. If Akron loses, it could be a "win" if the Zips' pass rush looks a little better, or if Patrick Nicely starts clicking better with his receivers.
If that kind of talk makes me a loser, so be it. Improvement is what Akron needs heading into homecoming week against Northern Illinois. Progression is what will give the Zips a fighting chance to beat Kent State for the 30th out of 31 tries, or whatever the Flashes' streak of futility has reached.
What do you think?
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