The Akron Zips (3-5, 1-4) will travel to the northeast as they take on the Massachusetts Minutemen (1-7, 0-4) in a Mid-American Conference East Division matchup Saturday afternoon. Akron has taken two of the three previous matchups, including a 30-6 home triumph as a 9 point favorite on November 18, 2014 in the most recent meeting.
Akron dropped their second straight game with a tough 14-6 defeat to Central Michigan at home last week. Massachusetts has lost four straight as they were defeated 20-10 by Ball State on the road. This game kicks off at 12:00 pm ET from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts and will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Massachusetts is currently a 2 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 52.5 points in this contest.
Akron put together a solid defensive performance but they couldn’t get anything going offensively against the Chippewas. The Zips missed an extra point on their lone touchdown, missed a field goal and were kept off the scoreboard in the second half. Akron outgained Central Michigan 277-265 in a game that saw both teams commit one turnover. The Zips were edged in the first down battle 16-15 and allowed Central Michigan to take the edge in the time of possession battle by a 31:27 to 28:33 margin.
The Zips have offensive issues as they average 191.6 yards per game (99th in the nation) through the air and 155 yards (tied for 89th in the nation) per contest on the ground. Akron is putting up 21.5 points per game on the scoreboard while they are tied for 53rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 24.5 points a game. Three quarterbacks have seen action for the Zips and they’ve been dreadful: they’ve completed 47.9 percent of their passes for 1,533 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions while averaging 6.5 yards per pass attempt. Thomas Woodson has seen the majority of the snaps; he’s 92 of 174 for 1,241 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions while ranking second on the team with 293 yards plus two scores on the ground. The Zips average 4 yards per carry on the ground with Conor Hundley leading the team with 113 carries for 577 yards and six scores; Donnell Alexander (60 carries, 257 yards) is the second back in the system. Imani Davis (30 receptions, 390 yards, 2 TD) is the team’s leading receiver while Andrew Pratt (11 grabs, 96 yards, TD) is a secondary option; Tyrell Goodman (11 catches, 96 yards, TD) is one of the other two players with double digit catches while Jerome Lane (18 grabs, 456 yards, 5 TD) is a big play threat. Robert Stein has hit 20 of 21 extra points and eight of 12 field goal attempts with a long of 46 yards.
Massachusetts struggled to put points on the board against a weak Ball State defense and it inevitably cost them in this one. The Minutemen moved the ball well as they outgained the Cardinals 448-427 and forced a pair of turnovers while committing only one but they couldn’t come up with yards when they needed them the most. Massachusetts edged Ball State with 25 first downs to 24 but fell behind 10-0 in the first half and 17-3 in the second half; they would get no closer than seven points in the loss.
The Minutemen do plenty of damage through the air as they are averaging 308 yards per game (19th in the nation) but they are putting up only 115.6 yards a game (116th in the nation) on the ground while averaging 3.9 yards per carry. The Minutemen are putting up 22.6 points per game but they are a sieve defensively as they allow 37.1 points per contest, which is 111th in the country in scoring defense. Blake Frohnapfel has completed 211 of 353 passes for 2,293 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven picks; Ross Comis has hit 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards and two scores in relief. Marquis Young is the team’s leading rusher with 59 carries for 436 yards and two scores while Jamal Wilson chips in 53 carries for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Tajae Sharpe, a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, has reeled in a team high 88 passes for 980 yards and four scores on the year. Marken Michel is next in line for the Minutemen with 29 grabs for 352 yards and four touchdowns while Wilson has added 20 catches out of the backfield; Rodney Mills (21 catches, 361 yards, 3 TD) and Shakur Nesmith (14 grabs, 193 yards, 3 TD) are good targets as well to take pressure off Sharpe. Three kickers for the Minutemen have banged through 22 of 24 extra points and five of eight field goals this season with a long of 48 yards.
Massachusetts is 2-5 ATS in their last seven after an ATS loss, 1-4 ATS in their last five after a straight up loss, 1-4 ATS in their last five in November, 0-6 ATS in their last six conference games, 0-5 ATS in their last five against teams with a losing record and 0-4 ATS in their last four overall.
This one is a tough one to call as the Minutemen can throw the ball extremely well but they haven’t been able to put points on the board in the last couple weeks. Akron isn’t great offensively but they curtailed Cooper Rush and the Chippewas last week. Expect the Zips to rein in Frohnapfel here as well as Akron picks up a tough victory on the road.