7 p.m., Infocision Stadium-Summa Field
After finishing last season with wins in four of their last five outings, the Akron Zips are optimistic about 2014. With a trip to Happy Valley for a meeting with Penn State in the wings, UA opens at home against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
Akron and Howard have met just once, with UA claiming a 65-7 victory on Sept. 20, 2003 at the Rubber Bowl. That tied a record for most points scored at the site. Quarterback Charlie Fry accounted for three touchdowns in a 35-point first quarter and UA had 48 points on the board by intermission.
Senior standout Jawon Chisolm is back at running back after earning All-MAC and team Offensive MVP honors in 2013. He had 869 yards and eight touchdowns in that campaign.
The Zips also own the highest percentage of receptions returning (96.6%) at wide receiver with junior Zach D’Orazio and sophomore Fransohn Bickley again lining up.
Howard, a Football Bowl Championship member, is picked to finish fourth in the Mid-East Atlantic Conference (MEAC). They are coming off a 6-6 (4-4 MEAC) season in 2013.
Head coach Gary Harrell is back after a year of absence from the program. The Bison also get back quarterback and MEAC Co-Player of the Year Greg McGee. Joining him is All-MEAC Second Team running back Anthony Philyaw, a 6-1, 210-pound who led the conference in scoring. He racked up 700 yards and 15 TDs on the ground and added 15 receptions for 188 yards and a TD via the pass.
Howard led the MEAC in total offense. The Bison were second in rushing (200 ypg) and first in least sacks allowed.
Redshirt Junior John Smith (6-7, 300) is a key cog up front.
Defensive end Damon Gresham-Chisolm (6-3, 250) recorded 38 tackles, 10 TFL and 3.5 sacks last year after earning 2012 MEAC Rookie of the Year honors. He was First Team All-MEAC last year.
Safety Cameron Alston led the Bisons in tackles last year and is joined along the back line by Julien David (5-11, 195). The redshirt senior missed last season with a shoulder injury, but he led the MEAC in tackles for the 2012 campaign. He is a three- year starter.