I have been getting numerous text messages from my friend who works in Kent State's athletic department. He wants to know what I think is going to happen tonight. How many points will the Zips score? Can they stop or limit Bernard Pierce?
Indeed, although Akron is miles from contention, the Zips' final games will have an impact on who plays in Detroit. Last week, Akron soiled Kent State's ability to control its own destiny. Tonight, the Zips have a chance to bring Temple back to the pack, which will make Ohio, Bowling Green and Kent State very pleased.
The Owls are undefeated in the MAC, however. This is mostly due to a shocking amount of output from Pierce, their freshman running back who leads the MAC in rushing by more than 40 yards. Pierce averages an unbelievable 134.6 yards per game, which is third in the nation.
And then you have the Temple defense, which gives up the second-fewest yards in the MAC. The Owls have a tough, physical front seven. Defensive end Adrian Robinson leads the conference with nine sacks.
News and notes...
Here are responses from the other MAC bloggers on the Roundtable.
Temple is favored by between 3.5 and 5 points. The over-under is between 44 and 45.5.
Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicled Temple's season, which started with a loss to Villanova. The Owls picked up a little confidence in their loss at Penn State. They haven't lost since.
Here is Tom Gaffney's preview.
It will take a lot of things to go right for Akron to win. First, the Zips' offensive line has to repeat its performance from last Saturday. There is little chance that the Zips be successful in running the ball, but their goal should be to not make the running game a significant weakness. The offensive line must give Patrick Nicely a chance to deliver the ball, as well.
When Temple has the ball, Akron must stack the box. Pierce will get his 150 yards, but the Zips can keep that total in check by bringing the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage and relying on single coverage in the backfield.
All in all, this is one of the few teams in the MAC that I am convinced has more talent than the Zips (Central Michigan and Northern Illinois being the others). For the Zips to win, it will be a major upset. I don't see it happening.
Temple 31, Akron 17
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