FACTS & STATS: Site: Yager Stadium (24,286) -- Oxford, Ohio. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Akron 1-2, Miami 0-2. Away Record: Akron 0-4, Miami 0-4. Neutral Record: Akron 0-0, Miami 0-0. Conference Record: Akron 0-3, Miami 0-2. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 16-5-1.
GAME NOTES: One of the four schools without a win in Mid-American Conference action will climb out of last place as the Akron Zips take on the Miami-Ohio RedHawks at Yager Stadium.
Coach Terry Bowden's effort to build his squad into a conference championship contender is not evident at a glance as Akron enters with a 1-6 overall record. However, the Zips that were regularly dominated in 2012 have held their own against top competition in 2013. They came up only a few yards short of a road upset of then nationally-ranked Michigan (28-24), battled Louisiana (35-30) in a shootout and only lost by a single possession to the defending MAC champion Northern Illinois Huskies (27-20) last week. Despite the strong efforts, Akron is still riding a 28-game losing slide versus FBS opponents.
The RedHawks enter this matchup with an 0-6 overall and 0-2 MAC record following their 17-10 loss to Massachusetts last week. The setback to the Minutemen marked the debut of interim head coach Mike Bath, who took over after Don Treadwell was fired following a 21-9 loss to Central Michigan. This will be the first home game for Miami under Bath, who once started under center for the RedHawks. His alma mater has lost 10 straight games dating back to 2012.
Miami is 16-5-1 against Akron in the all-time series. The RedHawks have not lost to the Zips in Oxford since 1939. They extended their all-time series lead with a 56-49 victory in Akron last season.
Akron's offense has been up-and-down this season due to the sporadic play of its sophomore quarterback. Kyle Pohl played well last week versus NIU, completing 24-of-56 attempts for 262 yards and a touchdown. Due to Akron's lack of fortune on the ground, it is ranked second to last in the MAC at 101 ypg. Jawon Chisholm is the team's lead back with 357 yards and three touchdowns on 92 carries. Pohl averaged just over 200 passing yards per outing and has nine touchdowns to eight interceptions on the campaign.
Zach D'Orazio and L.T. Smith have racked up 302 and 301 receiving yards, respectively, while serving as Pohl's primary targets. The Zips will need one of their skill position players to break out soon to improve on their average of 19.0 points per game, which ranks 106th nationally.
Akron's defense stepped up its play last week versus NIU, holding the Huskies to just one third-down conversion on 15 tries. The Huskies amassed 399 total yards of offense, but reigning MAC Player of the Year Jordan Lynch completed only 16-of-35 pass attempts. Jatavis Brown was a force with 15 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He has made 44 tackles this season to lead a Zips' defense that allows 33.6 ppg.
Miami tallied a season-high 290 yards of total offense and 19 first downs in Bath's first game last week. Dawan Scott rushed for 55 yards on just five carries, while also tallying four receptions for 58 yards. Austin Boucher had 166 passing yards and a touchdown, but he was largely ineffective, completing just 14-of-34 pass attempts, while tossing three interceptions. The RedHawks hurt themselves by converting only 1-of-11 third-down plays. On the season, they are ranked last nationally in total offense (213.7 ypg) and second to last in scoring (9.0 ppg).
Boucher's senior campaign has been disappointing through six games with only 54 completions on 125 attempts for 690 yards. He has thrown four touchdowns and been picked off six times. Scott is the team's leading receiver with 163 yards on 10 catches.
Miami's leading rusher is backup quarterback Austin Gearing, who has seen the field more than most backups this season and has gained 253 yards on 54 carries. The RedHawks net only 95.8 yards on the ground per game and have rushed for only two touchdowns this season.
Kent Kern has recorded 60 total tackles to lead a defense that allows 32.5 points and a MAC-worst 483 yards per game. Miami did not impress against the Minutemen's weak offense last week, surrendering 376 yards of total offense and 23 first downs. Although the RedHawks recorded two interceptions, UMass tallied 249 yards through the air, which could be a bad sign for Miami heading into its bout with the pass-friendly Zips.
The very inexperienced Bath will be testing his abilities against a very accomplished Akron staff. Despite being just a few years removed from their last MAC Championship, the RedHawks have fallen into the league's basement. The Zips have shown they have some upside and this will be a perfect chance to put it all together for 60 minutes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 34, Miami-Ohio 17
Saturday, October 19, 1:00 p.m. (et)