With wins over Illinois, Northern Illinois, Kent State and Western Michigan, the Bobcats are the MAC's elite team at this point.
CBSSportsline.com ranks Ohio as the 33rd best team in the country, while Akron is 74th. The Bobcats received no votes in the AP Poll or Coaches Poll.
The main reason for the Bobcats' success is defense, especially against the pass, where Ohio ranks seventh nationally. In scoring defense, OU is 19th nationally. The team leads the MAC in scoring defense as well. Special teams is also a strength.
Here is how the team stacks up otherwise...
- OU is effective in kickoff returns, just like Akron, the conference leader.
- The Bobcats are second-worst in the MAC in total offense with 273.1 yards per game. The Zips have moved up to fifth at 338.3.
- OU is third in total defense. Akron is fifth. As my friend Chris Muhlberg said, it's not the most stalwart defense you'll see, but the Bobcats are solid in the red zone.
- Thanks to freshman Chris Garrett, Ohio leads the MAC in punt returns. The Zips are dead last.
- The best matchup should be Luke Getsy, David Harvey and Jabari Arthur against Ohio's pass defense, ranked first in pass defense efficiency. Akron is third in pass efficiency.
- Ohio has notched the league's fewest first downs. Akron is in the middle of the pack.
- The Bobcats have the third-fewest sacks, only one spot below Akron. That says a lot about the skill level in their secondary.
- Ohio is fifth in third-down conversions. The Zips are dead last.
- OU's offensive line has only allowed 14 sacks, the second-fewest. Akron has given up 26.
- The Bobcats' special teams will challenge Harvey on kickoffs. Their kick coverage is best in the MAC.
- Kalvin McRae is OU's biggest weapon on offense. He averages 82.3 yards rushing, but he's coming off a week where he ran for 132 yards in the second half against Eastern Michigan. McRae is second in the MAC in touchdowns with 12.
- With the second-worst pass efficiency, Ohio relies on McRae a lot. Quarterback Austen Everson has so-so stats. No receiver has more than 300 yards on the season.
- Linebacker Matt Muncy is a serious playmaker. He has 11.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.
- Defensive backs T.J. Wright and Mark Parson are in the top six with 14 and 10 pass breakups, respectively.
The Plain Dealer's Elton Alexander writes that Ohio has not faced a quality passing quarterback this season. He also says a win would plant Akron right back in the MAC East race.
In case you missed it, Zips swept the MAC East Player of the Week honors. Getsy (offense), Brion Stokes (defense) and Harvey were key in Akron's win over Buffalo.
The ABJ's David Lee Morgan reports that J.D. Brookhart's play-action calls often threw off Buffalo's defense.
The Beacon Journal's story talks about the players' complaints over officiating in last night's loss.
The Zips will play Gardner-Webb tonight at 7. Read below for my game preview.