The theme -- Western Michgan has the fifth-worst run defense in the nation, allowing 245.8 rushing yards per game. Statistically, the pass defense looks good (40th nationally), but opponents have only averaged 25 pass attempts per game.
To be fair, the Broncos played West Virginia, who could probably run against the New England Patriots. WVU's Pat White, Steve Slaton & Co. ran for 316 yards, and the starters didn't even play a good chunk of the 62-24 blowout. Missouri and Indiana also are top-30 run offenses, and they, too, left WMU in the dust. Although the Broncos beat Toledo, the Rockets' running game is among the best in the MAC. So perhaps this is just one of the many statisitical anomalies that persists in nonconference college football. But maybe not, since Central Connecticut nearly ran for 200 yards, as well.
Key players -- Londen Fryar probably is the MAC's best cornerback. He makes game-changing plays. Defensive end Zach Davidson and linebacker Boston McCornell have combined for 10.5 tackles for loss. Those three players have been the only playmakers this season.
How Akron can score -- I would avoid throwing to whomever Fryar is covering. But you can forget that idea, because Akron has only one receiver. The real way to keep up with WMU's high-scoring offense is to keep them off the field. Bryan Williams needs to keep the chains moving. If the receivers are covered, Chris Jacquemain must get three or four yards wherever possible. I say "Jacquemain" because he is slated to start, but I don't expect him to play most of the game.
Domenik Hixon signed with the New York Giants. A local writer said he was surprised the G-Men cut promising receiver Anthony Mix to make room for Hixon. A Denver Post writer discusses the Broncos' desire to shake up the special teams.
The Kalamazoo Gazette wrote an excellent feature on Akron's Bryan Williams. (To write such an extensive profile about an opposing player is outstanding MAC coverage. I take my preverbial hat off to you, Graham Couch.)
The Buchtelite previewed Saturday's game, too. In the story, J.D. Brookhart agrees with me that Western Michigan should have been the preseason favorite to win the MAC. With Ball State's dominance, I'd amend that statement slightly. Still, I think the Broncos are really good.
Nick at VanDelaySports.com predicts a 33-14 WMU victory.
MACReportOnline.com's Dave Ruthenberg offers some scintilating MAC chatter, as well as a prediction of 24-20 in favor of the Broncos.
The Zips stand as eight-point underdogs, according to oddsmakers.
I ran into Rick McFadden on the way out of the library today. I forgot to ask him if he would like a job, other than his current position of men's basketball head of operations. How about quarterback of the Zips? (McFadden was recruited at Ohio State as a quarterback and actually played in a spring game there before transferring to Akron to play basketball.)
Despite two losses, Akron is back in the top 25 (according to two polls) thanks to a difficult schedule and recent winning streak.
They sit at No. 24 after a 3-0 win over Wright State Wednesday night.
The actual national poll, the NSCAA, gives Akron votes, but says the Zips are unranked.
Akron will host Hartwick on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Hartwick is in the MAC for men's soccer and features the conference leader in goals ( Chris Jackson, four).
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