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Akron vs. Ohio -- Preview

By mrasor Published: October 9, 2009

Before we get to the preview, it's my turn to post the MAC Roundtable questions and answers. I posed the questions.

    1) If the NFL Draft consisted solely of MAC players, who goes first, second, and third overall?
    Temple Football Forever -- link 1) Aaron Opelt, Toledo 2) Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan 3) Andre Neblett, Temple
    Let' -- link 1) Barry Church, Toledo 2) Dan LeFevour 3) Stephen Williams, Toledo
    Falcon Blog (Bowling Green) -- link 1) Barry Church, Toledo 2) Dan LeFevour 3) Bryan Anderson, Central Michigan
    Fire Up Chips (Central Michigan) -- link 1) Dan LeFevour 2) Barry Church 3) Bryan Anderson
    Over the Pylon (Ball State) -- link 1.) Barry Church 2.) Dan LeFevour 3.) Bryan Anderson
    Red and Black Attack (NIU) -- link 1. Barry Church 2. Dan LeFevour 3. Andre Neblett
    Rasor on the Zips -- me 1) Barry Church 2) Dan LeFevour 3) Antonio Brown, Central Michigan
    2) Are you happy with your favorite team competing in the MAC? If so, tell why. If not, explain where you would like to see your team compete and what the chances are that it happens in the next decade.
    Temple I'm happy with my team in the MAC and would only leave the MAC for a return to the Big East if that opportunity was extended (which I don't anticipate).
    Toledo Toledo is positioned, year after year, to be competitive and successful in the MAC. Based on the size of the University and geographic location, Toledo is perfectly suited to be a member school in the MAC and contribute to the quality and talent in the conference.
    Bowling Green Yes, I am happy with the Falcons in the MAC. I believe that the best case scenario for BG is to be succeeding in an ever improving MAC.
    Central Michigan I think for CMU, NIU, and Toledo fans we all know we have very good teams, and its going to be heartbreaking when we play each other at the end of the year and two of us are on the outside looking in. CMU's weakest link, our offensive line had been great -- so not really a weak link anymore -- but CMU fans were worried that our two tackles who have never started before, would sink the ship. They have excelled.
    Ball State I wouldn't say I'm happy... being winless will certainly create a bit of frustration, no matter how poorly you expected your team to play after losing so many players. I am nowhere near as frustrated as some, though. I am not screaming for Coach Parrish's head on a silver platter nor gathering up my pitchforks and torches. In terms of what would make me happy, a couple wins, which I think we should get, and the team continuing to show signs of life and improvement. From what I gather, they looked OK on Saturday, fluke luck just dictated we were not to win that game.
    Northern Illinois Yes, the future is bright in DeKalb for the NIU Huskies. Coach Kill has these guys playing disciplined and playing really well as of late. The kids are definitely ahead of schedule in development. Everything is just looking up right now with the team and hopefully that will drip right down to recruiting as well.
    Akron As you can see, not everybody understood my question. As an Akron fan, I have delusions of someday playing in a bigger conference. Those pipe dreams are further away when the team underachieves like this.
    3) At the end of the season, what is the bare minimum achievement that you would need to consider it to be a successful season? Do you expect any ramifications for the head coach if that achievement does not occur?
    Temple Seven wins is the bare minimum for me to consider it successful. There will be no ramifications for this coach if he doesn't achieve it. The uni gave him a five-year 575K contract to win. It is out of money and he still has a year to go after this one.
    Toledo Toledo has already tied the mark for wins last season, and with over half the season yet to be played, has a chance to add many more victories. Coming into the season, a lot of Toledo fans felt that if Beckman could match the record of Amstutz in 2008, it would be considered a successful season. It's obvious that Beckman has the Rockets positioned to be competitive down the stretch in the MAC and we think that's the new measure of success for this season. If Toledo can stay in the race toward the finish, compete well, win the games we should, cut down on the mental mistakes (penalties) and finish out the MAC schedule in a strong manner - that will make the season a success and set the tone for where Toledo is headed in the next few seasons. As fans, we'd love to see Toledo have a shot at the MAC Championship game and make a bowl appearance but after being down the last few years, just fielding a strong team and being competitive again is a breath of fresh air.
    Bowling Green For this to be a successful season, I would be looking for a 7-5 season. Since Coach Clawson is in his first year, obviously I don't expect any ramifications if he were to meet that goal, or, in fact, lose every remaining game and go 1-11.
    Central Michigan For Central Michigan we have to win the Championship. Losing the Championship or not appearing at all will be devastating, especially knowing that next year is probably a rebuilding year for us.
    Ball State The bare minimum achievement would be not embarrassing ourselves through MAC play... and not going winless. An 0-12 campaign would clearly be the worst case scenario, but I see that neither happening nor impacting Stan's role as head coach. A "success" now gets redefined to be three or four wins. And that's sad that we've had to lower the expectations so much.
    Northern Illinois MAC Championship. That's it. We've been close before, so we just need to get over that hump. If we don't win it this year, then we've got to win the bowl game. Otherwise our fans are going to be extremely upset.
    Akron J.D. Brookhart probably has to go to a bowl game to save his job. That means the team will have to win six of its last eight.
    4) Rank the MAC from top to bottom.
    1) CMU -- average rank of 1.17 (6 of 7 first-place votes) 2) Northern Illinois -- 2.33 (1 first-place vote) 3) Toledo -- 3.5 4) Ohio -- 4 5) Temple -- 5 6) Bowling Green -- 7.17 7) tie Western Michigan -- 7.83 7) tie Kent State -- 7.83 9) Buffalo -- 8.5 10) Akron -- 8.83 11) Ball State -- 10.83 12) Eastern Michigan -- 11.33 13) Miami 76 -- 12.67

As for the Akron-Ohio preview...
This game will show Akron fans if there is any hope for the season. To make a bowl game, Akron would likely need to win seven games. That means the Zips must finish the season at a 6-2 clip.
This is a home game against a divisional opponent, so it really raises the stakes. If the Zips don't win this game, how are they supposed to win road games against MAC powerhouse Northern Illinois, or the surprisingly decent Syracuse, or even at Bowling Green and Buffalo?
It's hard to say you have a must-win game in early October, but seriously. This is the season.
And Ohio has shown it is a solid MAC team. The Bobcats lost close games to Connecticut and Tennessee. They won shootouts against North Texas and Bowling Green. Their scoring offense and scoring defense are both in the top half of the conference statistics.
Quarterback Theo Scott has thrown nine touchdowns to only three interceptions. His favorite target is Taylor Price, who is sixth in the MAC with 74.4 yards per game. Chris Garrett rushes for 4.8 yards per carry and also leads the conference in kick return average.
The linebackers are active in Frank Solich's 4-3 defense. Noah Keller is second in the MAC with 11.4 tackles per game (Akron's Brian Wagner is first). Freshman safety Gerald Moore is one of only eight players in the conference to have intercepted at least two passes (Wagner is another).
As with most successful teams, Ohio does not always win the battle to see who moves the ball the farthest over 60 minutes, but the Bobcats normally win the war by not allowing turnovers and forcing a lot themselves. They have forced a conference-leading 14 turnovers and only committed 10.
    Ohio is a three- or four-point favorite, depending on the oddsmaker. The over-under is between 51 and 52.
    The ABJ's Tom Gaffney wrote about Scott, the senior Bobcat quarterback who is also dangerous as a runner.
    Gaffney also previewed the game. In the story, Brookhart said you have to force Ohio to drive the field. Don't let them pick up huge chunks of yards, because that is when the Bobcats are most dangerous.
    Here is what I wrote about Ohio on June 12. At that time, 79 percent of readers thought Akron would win.

I really think these teams are evenly matched in terms of talent. It will come down to turnovers. Looking back at the season, Akron has done poorly in that regard; Ohio has excelled. So unless that trend flips, I see this being a disappointing Homecoming. Ohio 24, Akron 27
[poll id="74"]
Men's soccer
The ABJ's Michael Beaven wrote an interesting story about how Steve Zakuani is adjusting to life as an MLS player.
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