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Akron Zips vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction

Corey Clement

Corey Clement

Wisconsin looks to avoid a letdown this week after a monster of a win in Green Bay last weekend against LSU. Given the matchup facing them this week, things should be a little easier for the Badgers with a MAC team making its way to Camp Randall Stadium this Saturday.

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On the other side of the field will be Akron, a program continuing to take steps forward under head coach Terry Bowden. This is Bowden’s fifth year with the program, and there has been some steady improvement under his watch. Don’t forget that Bowden coached Akron to a near upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor not too long ago. Can Bowden’s Zips catch Wisconsin sleeping, or will the Zips be no match for the Badgers?

Akron at Wisconsin

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: Big Ten Network

Spread: Wisconsin -24

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Three Things to Watch

1. Avoid the hangover
Wisconsin scored one of the biggest wins on opening weekend in Lambeau Field against LSU. The Badgers promptly were rewarded for their effort by getting a huge bump in the rankings after starting the season outside the top 25 of the major polls. So what’s next? A home opener against a MAC school. It seems like a good recipe for a letdown, especially since the offense didn’t exactly light things up last week. Wisconsin was just 3-for-15 on third down against LSU, and they managed 339 yards. The offense should get a more productive afternoon this week, and the defense should manage to keep playing strong enough to keep Akron at arm’s length.

2. Akron QB Thomas Woodson threw six touchdown passes last week
Sure, it was against VMI in the season opener, which is hardly LSU or Wisconsin on defense, but you have to think Wisconsin’s defensive film sessions this week have made mention of the season debut for Akron’s quarterback. In addition to the scores, Woodson passed for more than 400 yards in the Zips’ victory over VMI. That included two scoring strikes in the fourth quarter to help pull away for the win.

On the other side, Wisconsin rattled LSU quarterback Brandon Harris last week, holding him to just 12-of-21 for 131 yards and two interceptions.

3. If Corey Clement gets by Akron’s front line, watch out
Akron’s defense has some weak spots all across the field, although its defensive line has the potential to be serviceable. While it may be one of the top fronts in the MAC, it could get worn down pretty heavily by Wisconsin’s offensive line. That should create holes for Corey Clement, who managed 86 yards and a touchdown last week against LSU. Akron will play defense with the Badgers, but for how long can the Zips manage to avoid giving up big gains on the ground?

Final Analysis

Is this the perfect scenario for a bit of a letdown game for Wisconsin? Absolutely. That said, don’t count on seeing that happen. Wisconsin may not be on the same level as Ohio State, but the Badgers are full of confidence after taking down LSU, as they should be. The good news for Wisconsin is there is still room for improvement. Look for quarterback Bart Houston to try knocking off some rust after two interceptions last week, while Clement will be likely to take care of business on the ground running the football. Wisconsin should not have too difficult a time going 2-0, but it cannot take Akron lightly.

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Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Akron 17

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook