#70 Akron Zipper Advance

Spring practices are already in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it, which means you’ll have an early jump into the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time. in August and Matt Fargo is here to help you understand what to expect this coming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 college football trailer.

#70 – Akron 7-6 SU Zips; 7-6 ATS

Fargo’s Take Akron was the MAC surprise last season, winning three of their last four games to reach the MAC Championship where they defeated Northern Illinois in a classic battle. A loss to Memphis in the Motor City Bowl was disappointing, but it was the first 1-A bowl game for the program, so there was nothing to hang our heads over. Talk of repeating started as soon as that game against the Tigers ended, but it won’t be as easy as some might think. The Zips return quarterback Luke Getsy, arguably the best in the MAC, but every other skill position needs to be replaced, including leading rusher Brett Briggs, who rushed for 1,230 yards last season. The defense was a welcome surprise, finishing 32nd in the country in total defense, with nine of those starters returning. Akron returns with the most starters of any team in the conference, so a second straight MAC East title should happen, but in this conference, anything can happen.

Returning starters on offense – 8 The offense centers around Getsy, who shone in his first season with Akron, running the West Coast offense to perfection. The Pittsburgh transfer passed for 3,455 yards and 23 touchdowns, but the only negative was his 53 percent completion rate. He’ll be throwing to relatively new receivers this season, as 188 of his 278 completions have graduated. The leading candidate to replace Domenik Hixon is junior Jabari Arthur, who closed out last season with a brilliant game in the Motor City Bowl. The other side is still wide open. As a running back, things aren’t so great as the top returning rusher is Dennis Kennedy, who rushed for 131 yards on just 2.9 ypc last season. Getsy benefits from the return of the five offensive linemen, a small but highly experienced unit. Akron averaged 23.6 points per game last season, which is pretty low considering the talent on the team, so hitting that average again might be overkill.

Returning starters on defense – 9 This is where the Zips will have to shine if they are to make a second straight trip to the MAC Championship. Nine starters return to the mix, and there are no glaring weaknesses anywhere. The defensive line will be strong as will the linebackers, but if there’s one area to improve, it’s stopping the run. Akron finished 71st in the country in run defense last season, allowing 159 ypg, and while that was a big improvement over the past five years, he’s yet to drop. Allowing a combined 596 rushing yards in the last two games doesn’t give the Zips much momentum heading into this year. The secondary was terrific last season, finishing 16th in the nation in passing defense and bringing back its starting five.

Schedule At first glance, the schedule seems quite complicated with seven away games, but after further analysis, it is very manageable. The Zips begin with two extremely tough non-conference road games at Penn St. and NC State before playing their first MAC game in Central Michigan. The home opener is a non-conference game against North Texas and then back on the road for two more games against Kent St. and Cincinnati. Playing five of their first six games away from home is no easy feat, but three of those games are winnable. Four of the last six games are at home, including games against Miami and Bowling Green, both of which are in rebuilding seasons. The toughest game in that final stretch is an away game at contending MAC West Toledo. The last road game in Ohio could well decide the division.

You can bet… Akron definitely outperformed last year and it will likely take a similar effort to get back to a bowl game. Akron has had a winning record the past three seasons, but received no bowl offers in those first two seasons, so winning the entire MAC might be the only way to reach the postseason once again. Akron has been a solid housedog, going 16-8 ATS since 1996, but it’s unlikely he’ll find himself in that role this season. The Zips have made a name for themselves and since every home game is a likely win, they will be the favorite in all of them. They are just 5-9 ATS as home favorites over the past five years and in order to target a profitable third consecutive season against the number, that will have to improve.

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