University of Akron football coach Terry Bowden is on point this week.

There’s one clear-cut goal — beat Kent. That would be rival Kent State University, whom the Zips will play at noon Friday at InfoCision Stadium in the battle for the Wagon Wheel.

“Every year you’ve got certain objectives that you’d like to be able to hit. It has always been your No. 1 goal to beat your rival,” Bowden said at his weekly news conference Tuesday.

That includes passing on bowl speculation. The Zips became eligible for bowl consideration with last week’s victory over Buffalo. Bowl prognosticators — yes, there are those who project who will end up in what bowl game — have the Zips going anywhere from the Raycom Media Camelia Bowl to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

“I really don’t read enough [about projections],” he said. “The few people that come around me say there are so many bowls out there they have five-win teams out there. I know we have to win to guarantee ourselves a situation we can control.”

Six wins isn’t a shoo-in for any consideration. Even seven wins do not guarantee the Zips a bowl bid. Perhaps that’s why Bowden approaches Friday’s game as he and his team should. It’s a rivalry game the Golden Flashes won last year to close the season and he and his team want to win.

“It doesn’t diminish the importance of this game as far as how critical it is to us to play our rival. Our kids want to win that rivalry,” Bowden said.

No relief

The joy of winning showed most notably on the face of senior defensive tackle Cody Grice (Firestone) last Saturday. Speaking in post-game interviews he said the team was proud of the accomplishment.

However, Bowden never mentioned where the coaching staff was on the range of emotions after finally grabbing one of their stated goals when they arrived at UA. Those goals include bowl eligibility, beat Kent State, win the MAC East and win the conference. With one out of the way, Bowden said there was no sense of relief for his staff.

“In coaching there’s always one more game. Is it the goal we set for ourselves here? Not at all,” he said of bowl eligibility. “Our goal is to be the best team in this conference. Our goal is to build a championship team — championship relative to Mid-American Conference.”

Going out

There’s nothing more the Zips would like to do than extend their season with a bowl appearance, it would be the perfect way for Bowden’s first four-year class to depart UA.

He didn’t hesitate when asked what he first thought of when considering them. Trust, he said.

“Great trust. I think there’s great trust in this group of people,” he said.

But Bowden emphasized that was especially true of the team’s fifth-year seniors who stayed after the arrival of a new coaching staff.

“[We] told them this is where we’re going to go and this is how we’re going to get there,” he said. “They [had] to buy in. They have to trust that plan. They have to trust their second staff … and it was not easy. This was a very difficult assignment, having done it four other times at four other schools.”

Ranking the Zips

The UA defense ranks as the third-best rushing defense in the country, giving up 97 yards per game and No. 28 in total defense, surrendering 346.1 total yards a game … Cornerback DeAndre Scott ranks No. 4 in interceptions with six … Sophomore wide receiver Jerome Lane ranks No. 4 in yards per catch with 21.77 and linebacker Jatavis Brown ranks No. 5 in sacks (.95 per game) and No. 31 in tackles.

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Zips blog at www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.