NCAA Football Preview & Free Prediction: Akron vs Ohio

The final week of the college football regular season gets started with a MAC contest between the Ohio Bobcats and Akron Zips. Game time is set for 6:00 EST on Tuesday, November 26 at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio. Fans can find the game on ESPN-Plus.

The early betting line has Ohio favored by 27.5 points on the road against their in-state foes. There is also an over/under of 51.5 points. Click here to check out all of the college football games for this week’s action.

Akron vs Ohio Game Preview & Betting Odds

For the Zips, this is the last chance to avoid a winless season. Akron has lost all 11 games they’ve played this season, including all seven MAC games. In their defense, the Zips haven’t played an FCS opponent, which may have afforded them at least one win. They also came close last week, only losing to Miami (Ohio) 20-17, which is impressive considering Miami has locked up a spot in the MAC title game. In any event, Tom Arth doesn’t want to go through his first season at Akron without a single win.

On the other side, Ohio is just trying to get to a bowl game. The Bobcats have failed to reach a bowl game just once in the last 10 years, and even in that year, they were at least eligible at 6-6. Under Frank Solich, Ohio is accustomed to competing for MAC championships and going to bowl games, so this season has been a bit of a disappointment. The Bobcats kept their hopes alive with a 66-24 win over Bowling Green, but need one more win to become bowl eligible. Not since 2008 have the Bobcats finished the season with a losing record, which is what’s on the line against Akron this week.

Meanwhile, Ohio actually lost 37-34 two years ago during their last trip to Akron. That loss was a big deal because it snapped a 9-game winning streak the Bobcats had against the Zips. Ohio won last year’s meeting between the two in-state foes, but the Bobcats will surely be hoping to get redemption after losing in their last visit to Akron.

Free College Football Against the Spread Pick: Ohio -27.5

To be honest, I feel a little bad for Akron likely going winless this season. But there’s a strong argument to make that they are indeed the worst team in the country. Last week’s close game seems like an aberration, as Akron’s three previous losses all came by at least 28 points. With so much on the line for Ohio, the Bobcats aren’t going to take the Zips lightly. After beating Bowling Green by 42 points last week, I think the Bobcats can replicate that kind of performance and cover the 27.5-point spread in this game.

For what it’s worth, Akron deserves a little credit for scoring 14 and 17 points in the last two weeks, respectively, which is better than they’ve done in most games this season. However, one of their touchdowns against Miami last week came on defense. That’s not something they can rely on happening again this week. Also, the Zips barely eclipsed the 200-yard mark against Miami, indicating that their offense hasn’t improved much over the season.

Admittedly, the Ohio defense hasn’t been particularly impressive this season. At times, they’ve been able to hold decent teams to a reasonable point total, but they haven’t done it with consistency. That being said, they did pitch a shutout in the second half against Bowling Green last week. That’s a good indication that they should get a handle on the Akron offense and be able to shut them down. The Bobcats also forced five turnovers in that game, including four forced fumbles. If the Ohio defense can continue to force turnovers against another lackluster offensive team, it should be a little easier for them to pull away and cover.

On the other side of the ball, I don’t have much faith in the Akron defense to keep the scoreline respectable. The Zips have only held three of their 11 opponents this season to less than 30 points. More importantly, the Akron defense has been gashed on the ground by almost every opponent they’ve faced this year. That just happens to be the strength of the Ohio offense.

The Bobcats, while not overly dominant on the ground, will run the ball until their opponent proves that they can stop it. With 175 yards on just 12 carries last week, freshman running back O’Shaan Allison finally passed quarterback Nathan Rourke as the team’s leading rusher. He’s now averaging better than six yards per carry while De’Montre Tuggle has 10 rushing touchdowns on the season, nearly matching Rourke’s 11 scores on the ground. Rourke, meanwhile, is competent enough as a passer that the Zips won’t be able to stack the box and focus solely on the Ohio rushing attack.

Ultimately, the Akron defense will struggle to stop Ohio’s rushing game, which will surely become demoralizing for a team that is yet to win a game this year. The Bobcats should be able to dominate the game with their running game, especially knowing the Akron offense won’t have much of an answer. That should allow Ohio to cover the 27.5-point spread.

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