At the beginning of this season, a lot of Zips fans believed that Akron would be in the position that Bowling Green presently occupies: pretty close to .500 with two games left, having a good chance to sneak to the top of the division and/or play in a bowl.
Like Akron, the Falcons started the year 1-4. They turned the season around by winning five of their next six. Coach Dave Clawson said an interesting quote, which almost sounds as if it was directed at Akron: "When you start out a season 1-4, if you don't have good senior leadership that can quickly become 1-5, 1-6, 1-7."
The Zips sit at 2-8. Is it senior leadership? Akron certainly had plenty of seniors on offense, where the bulk of this season's problems arose. Would things have been different if Chris Jacquemain wasn't kicked off the team? I really don't have the answer.
Regardless, the Zips face an explosive offense this evening. Bowling Green averages about 35 more passing yards than anyone else in the MAC.
Freddie Barnes and Tyler Sheehan should both be candidates for MAC Player of the Year. Barnes is leading the nation in receptions -- and it's not even close. Sheehan is passing for about 50 yards more than anyone else in the conference.
The way to beat Bowling Green is on the ground. The Falcons surrender an average of 130 yards more on the ground running than they accumulate. Their pass defense, however, is pretty good.
News and notes...
Tom Gaffney's preview talks about how Barnes and Sheehan developed their connection.
The Falcons are 10.5-point favorites.
Here is what I wrote about Bowling Green on July 29, when 67 percent of readers thought Akron would win.
This is the easiest prediction all year. Bowling Green is an awful matchup for the Zips. The running game is not what it needs to be to take advantage of the Falcons' only weakness. Can Miguel Graham keep up with Barnes? Maybe for a quarter, but this game will turn south quickly.
Akron 13, Bowling Green 47