Akron (1-7) at Central Michigan (2-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (30,255) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Akron 1-4, CMU 1-3. Away Record: Akron 0-3, CMU 1-2. Neutral Record: Akron 0-0, CMU 0-0. Conference Record: Akron 0-4, CMU 0-3. Series Record: Central Michigan leads, 14-9-1.
GAME NOTES: Something has got to give when the Akron Zips and Central Michigan Chippewas square off at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, as both sides seek their first Mid-American Conference victory of the season.
Akron enters on a five-game losing slide with four of those setbacks coming from conference foes. Coach Terry Bowden has made an immediate positive impact in his inaugural season at the helm of the program despite its unattractive 1-7 overall record. The Zips dominated Morgan State, 66-6, in their lone win of the season and came up just short in overtime losses to FIU and Ohio University. Akron was shut down and suffered a 37-7 setback to Northern Illinois last week.
The Chippewas have also struggled in the early going and managed just a 2-5 mark with an 0-3 league record. CMU was able to steal a win on the road against Iowa, but it has been defeated four times in a row since, including last week's 41-30 loss to Ball State. Coach Dan Enos and his team have had a difficult road with bouts against Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Navy already in the books.
This will be the 25th encounter between these schools. Central Michigan holds a 14-9-1 advantage in the all-time series after claiming a 23-22 decision in Akron last season. The Zips scored at the end of regulation but failed a two- point conversion after electing to go for the win.
The Zips had one of the most ineffective offenses in the FBS last season with mere averages of 277.8 yards and 14.2 points per contest. Bowden's fast paced philosophy has led to 429.1 yards and 29.8 points per game. The Zips rank first in the MAC and 11th in the FBS with 311.5 passing yards average despite being held to a season-low 199 yards of offense last week.
Dalton Williams is averaging just under 47 attempts per game and has a 20- to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Williams is coming off of a season-low 157- yard performance against NIU. He was also sacked four times by the Huskies.
Williams's favorite target is Marquelo Suel, who has tallied 535 receiving yards and four touchdowns through seven games. Zach D'Orazio, Keith Sconiers, L.T. Smith, and Dee Frieson also play vital roles in Akron's spread attack.
While Akron clearly emphasizes passing in its offense, Jawon Chisholm is a capable tailback. The sophomore has picked up 688 yards on the ground this season after finishing just 39 yards shy of 1,000 last year as a rookie. Chisholm had his streak of three consecutive games with at least 100 yards snapped last week as he was swallowed up by NIU and held to only 13 yards on eight carries.
The Zips are not an intimidating team defensively. Bowling Green is the only one of their seven FBS opponents to be held under 30 points. In its past five games, Akron has allowed an embarrassing average of 555.8 yards per game.
Kurt Mangum is the leading tackler with 68 stops, 32 of which are solo stops. J.D. Griggs is a force up front with 4.5 sacks, which is tied for seventh most in the MAC.
CMU's offense has averages of 378.0 yards and 25.6 points per contest through its first seven games. Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff is the team's field general. He has passed for 1,774 yards and 13 touchdowns with a 58.9 percent completion rate. Radcliff has passed for 330 yards or more in three of his last four starts.
Junior running back Zurlon Tipton is the main threat in the Chippewas' offensive attack. He leads the team with 754 all-purpose yards and just passed 1,000-yard mark for his career. Tipton is averaging 6.9 points per game, which is the ninth best rate in the MAC.
Titus Davis and Cody Wilson are both consistent threats in the passing attack. Wilson has tallied a team-high of 43 receptions for 540 yards. Davis comes in with 511 yards, five catches for scores, and 26 receptions. Wilson has made a catch in 36 consecutive games, which is tied with West Virginia's Tavon Austin for the third longest active streak in the nation.
CMU is one of the weakest defensive squads in the FBS with allowed averages of 493.6 yards and 39.9 points per game. The Chippewas are especially poor against the run, which was evident as Ball State gained 233 yards on the ground against them last week. Sophomore LB Justin Cherocci leads the team with 69 total tackles and junior LB Shamari Benton is close behind with 66 stops.
Although CMU has had a difficult schedule in the early going, it has lost all four of its last games by double-digit margins. Akron has been streaky and more competitive during its current five-game losing slide but still cannot seem to put it all together. After being embarrassed in recent weeks, both sides will enter this one with intensity.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 35, Central Michigan 34
10/24 10:32:25 ET