Can Miami’s defense contain Teon Dollard this Saturday at Akron?
We have an interesting Week 4 matchup on deck for Saturday as the Miami RedHawks (1-1) hit the road to take on the Akron Zips (0-2). Miami needs a win to at least stay in the mix in the MAC East, while a victory over the defending MAC champions would certainly be a signature win for Tom Arth’s Zips. Miami’s contest with Ohio was cancelled last week as Akron lost 69-35 at Kent State in Week 3.
When: November 28 (Saturday) at 1 p.m.
Where: Infocision Stadium in Akron, Ohio
Weather: Cloudy with a high of 47 degrees with 10 mph winds, 20% chance of rain
Odds: Miami is a 14.5-point favorite with the under/over set at 54 points, per OddsShark.com.
Miami currently leads the series 19-9-1.
Largest Margin of Victory: Miami shut out Akron 65-0 in 1995.
Longest Win Streak: The RedHawks had a five-game winning streak from 2001-2005.
Current Streak: Miami currently has a three-game winning streak over the Zips.
Points per game: 24
Points allowed per game: 36.5
Yards gained per game: 340
Yards allowed per game: 518
The one good thing about the Battle of the Bricks being cancelled is that it gave Miami an opportunity to get healthy on the offensive side of the ball. Blaine Gabbert and Davion Johnson are listed as questionable for Saturday per Covers.com, while Andrew Homer, Jaylon Bester, and Tyre Shelton are all out for the season. AJ Mayer didn’t have a banner day throwing the ball against Buffalo as he went 7/25 for 116 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, partly due to UB’s coverage as the Bulld had five pass break-ups in addition to the interception.
The RedHawks were able to have moderate success on the ground as they rushed at a 4.5 yard-per-carry clip with three different ‘Hawks carrying the ball seven or more times. The biggest point of concern remains the defense as they allowed over 200 rushing yards and 350 passing yards against UB. Dom Dzioban was one of the few bright spots against Buffalo as he pinned the Bulls inside their own 20-yard-line on four punts.
Points per game: 19.3
Points allowed per game: 50.3
Yards gained per game: 352.3
Yards allowed per game: 513.7
Akron may be winless at this point in the season, but they have shown some signs of promise in 2020. Teon Dollard is a top-tier RB in the conference as he is third in the MAC with 144.7 rushing yards per game, but Zach Gibson has had problems with negative plays as he has thrown four interceptions and has been sacked 11 times this season.
The defense of the Zips isn’t the most disruptive as they only have six TFLs on the season, but Bubba Arslanian and Julian Richardson each have a pair of sacks on the year. UA has allowed oponents to convert on third down 58% of the time, but the special teams have been pretty solid as the Zips have downed five punts inside the 20-yard-line and Cory Smigel is 3-4 on field goals this season.
It is absolutely stunning to me that Miami is a 14.5-point favorite in this game. The RedHawks have yet to stop anybody on defense in 2020, and this is an Akron team that took a competent Ohio Bobcats squad down to the wire in their meeting earlier in the season. For Miami to avoid the upset, the receivers have to step up and create some separation against a UA defense that has allowed nearly 12 yards per attempt this season. The running game of the Red and White hasn’t been explosive in 2020, so they need players like Jack Sorenson and James Burns to make life for Mayer a little easier.
However, it would not be surprising to see Akron pull off the upset Saturday. Dollard is going to rack up some serious yardage on a defense that has allowed 187 rushing yards per game. Miami’s pass rush isn’t what it was last season, so Gibson should have some time to make throws against a pass defense that has given up a lot of big plays in 2020. The special teams for both teams is a wash, so I would expect a high scoring contest.
37-31 Miami. I don’t think the issues with Miami’s defense can be fixed in a week, so it will struggle to put away the Zips. Ultimately, Akron just doesn’t have the athletes that Miami does at this point, and the ‘Hawks will exploit that for a much-needed win. However, if Akron offensive line is able to play well and keep the pocket clean for Gibson, we could be in for a wild game in Akron.