Akron got some help from rival Kent State Wednesday as the Flashes knocked off Temple, who was 2-3 in the MAC, just a game behind the Zips.
On the eve of one of the most momentous games in the program's history, it might sound minimal, but Temple's exodus from the race makes it a three-team chase for the division crown.
Maybe you haven't really considered how crucial tonight's game is. You should...
What does a win do?
Akron would be 4-2 in the MAC -- a full game and tiebreaker ahead of Buffalo and a full game ahead of Bowling Green. Winning out, of course, would secure the MAC East. Assuming the Zips lose one of the final two games, Akron would need to be concerned if Bowling Green, and only Bowling Green, tied the Zips at 5-3. A three-way tie would be impossible. Buffalo OR Bowling Green would tally their fourth loss the following week when they play each other. But back to Bowling Green: If the Falcons win out for a 5-3 record, they take the tiebreaker over the Zips. However, that scenario is only possible if the Zips lose one of their last two. Bowling Green must also win both of its last two games (vs. Buffalo and @ Toledo). The biggest benefit of a win is that it would eliminate Buffalo from the race. The Bulls would have ZERO paths to Detroit (unless there is a wild multi-team tie at 4-4).
What does a loss do?
A loss would put Akron in a tie with Bowling Green at 3-3, which isn't very helpful considering the Zips lost to the Falcons. Even if the Zips win out, they would need help. Bowling Green would have to beat Buffalo, bringing the Bulls to 4-3. Then Buffalo would have to lose at home to Kent State, to prevent them from achieving five wins and winning the direct tiebreaker or three-way tiebreaker over Akron (I believe Buffalo would have the superior division record, which is the second tiebreaker). Further, for the Zips to play in Detroit, Bowling Green would have to lose its final game at Toledo, which is possible. Still, that is three games that would have to go Akron's way. To recap: BG over Buffalo (putting BG and Buffalo at 4-3), KSU over Buffalo (taking Buffalo to 4-4) and Toledo over BG (taking BG to 4-4). That's the only path to Detroit if Akron loses tonight.
There is one other possibility...
Kent State and Temple are not eliminated. They both have four losses, but if either team wins out (and they get A LOT of help), this tiebreaker situation could get really ugly. Really ugly.
From what I hear, attendance tomorrow should be phenomenal. Three different Ritzman pharmacies had 3,000 tickets to distribute for $1 each. Each pharmacy had sold out of tickets as of last night.
Akron has no injuries except for the players who are out for the year, according to associate AD Mike Cawood.
The spread is ranging between 3.5 and 5.5 points. Akron is the favorite. The over-under is 60 or 61.
The PD provided some interesting numbers about the Rubber Bowl. The Zips are 191-123-10 in the Rubber Bowl's 78-year history. The Browns have played 19 preseason games there. More than 3.6 million fans have sat on those benches.
Buffalo coach Turner Gill said his team will try to stop Dennis Kennedy.
The ABJ's Marla Ridenour wrote a really fascinating story about what current pros thought of playing at the Rubber Bowl in college. Great stuff. It's a must-read.
It will be even more important for Bryan Williams, who has been playing at the Rubber Bowl since his freshman year at Buchtel High School, the ABJ's Tom Gaffney writes.
I cannot imagine Akron losing this game. The crowd will be too intense. The emotions will be as high as they get for Akron Football. The Bulls are not so experienced in these situations. Buffalo may be better at the skill positions, but the Zips will dominate the offensive line and move the ball with the running game. A near sell-out watches Akron close the Rubber Bowl with a big win.
Akron 31, Buffalo 21
Gaffney spoke with Zeke Marshall, who said he wanted to go to a lesser-known school.
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