What Time Is The Nc State Football Game Today #70 Akron Zips Preview

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#70 Akron Zips Preview

Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it, so that means an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time in August, and Matt Fargo is here to help you figure out what to expect next year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 college football preview.

#70 – Akron Zips 7-6 SU; 7-6 ATS

Fargo’s Take Akron was the surprise of the MAC last season, winning its last three games to advance to the MAC Championship, where it defeated Northern Illinois in a classic battle. The loss to Memphis in the Motor City Bowl was disappointing, but it was the first 1-A bowl game for the program, so there was nothing to hang them up about. Talk of a repeat started as soon as that game ended against the Tigers, but it won’t be as easy as some think. The Zips return quarterback Luke Getsy, arguably the best in the MAC, but will need to replace every other skill position, including leading rusher Brett Briggs, who rushed for 1,230 yards last season. The defense was a pleasant surprise, ranking 32nd in the nation in total defense and returning nine of those starters. Akron returns the most starters of any team in the conference in order for a second straight MAC East title to happen, but anything can happen in this conference.

Returning starters on offense – 8 The offense centers around Gatsey, who shined in his first season with Akron and has matured the West Coast offense. The Pittsburgh transfer threw for 3,455 yards and 23 touchdowns, but one downside was his 53 percent completion rate. He’s outpaced relatively new receivers this season, completing 188 of his 278 completions. The leading candidate to take over for Domenic Hickson is youngster Jabari Arthur, who finished last season with a stellar performance in the Motor City Bowl. The other side is still open. Against the run, things aren’t as good, as the leading rusher back is Dennis Kennedy, who ran for just 131 yards at 2.9 ypc last season. The Gaets will benefit from the return of all five offensive linemen, a small but very experienced unit. Akron averaged 23.6 ppg last season, a very low amount considering the talent on the team, so it could be a long shot to reach that mark again.

Returning starters on defense – 9 This is where the Zips need to shine if they are to make a second straight trip to the MAC Championship. Nine starters return to the mix and there are no glaring weaknesses anywhere. The defensive line will be as solid as the linebackers, but if there’s one area for improvement, it’s stopping the run. Akron ranked 71st in the nation in rushing defense last season, allowing 159 ypg, and while that was a big improvement over the last five years, it still has some way to go. Allowing 596 yards on the ground in the final two games doesn’t give the Zips much momentum this year. The secondary was excellent last season, finishing 16th in the nation in passing defense and returning all five starters.

The Schedule At first glance, the schedule looks very difficult with seven road games, but upon further inspection, it is very manageable. The Zips open with two extremely tough non-conference games at Penn St. and NC State before the MAC opener at Central Michigan. The home opener is a non-conference game against North Texas, and then it’s back for two more games against Kent St. and Cincinnati. Winning five of your first six games on the road is no easy feat, but three of those games have been wins. Four of the final six games are at home, including games against Miami and Bowling Green, both of which are in rebuilding seasons. The toughest game in this final round is a road game at MAC West rival Toledo. The final road game at Ohio could very well decide the division.

You can talk about … Akron certainly overachieved last year and will probably need a similar effort to get back to a bowl game. Akron has had a winning record the past three seasons, but it hasn’t received a bowl bid in those first two campaigns, so winning the entire MAC may be the only way to get into the postseason. Akron has been solid as the home dog, going 16-8 ATS since 1996, but is unlikely to find itself in that role this season. The Zips have made a name for themselves and with every home contest likely to win, they will dominate them all. They’re just 5-9 ATS as home favorites over the past five years, and to shoot for a straight season of earnings against the number, that will have to improve.

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