Last Saturday, the Akron Zips had all they could handle with the Miami RedHawks before pulling away in the second half for a 35-13 victory to improve to 4-2 on the season. UA is a perfect 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play, tied with Ohio atop the Eastern Division.
It is the second time in the last three season that UA has carved out a 4-2 mark after six games and the fourth time since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1987 it has reached that mark. This Saturday brings UA’s biggest test of the MAC season as the nationally-ranked (23/24) Western Michigan Broncos come to InfoCision Stadium.
The visitors from Kalamazoo are a perfect 6-0 and own an eight-game winning streak dating back to last season. The Broncos most recently defeated Northern Illinois at home in Kalamazoo and are ranked in both national polls for the first time in school history.
Let’s take a look at both teams . . .
LAST TIME OUT: Last Saturday was homecoming at InfoCision Stadium, and the Zips did not disappoint their fans as they defeated the Miami Redhawks 35-13. It was UA’s fourth straight win over MU in the all-time series Junior QB Tra’von Chapman, starting for the second consecutive game for injured starter Thomas Woodson, scored with a 70-yard run on Akron’s second offensive play of the game. Through the air, he completed 15-of-29 passes for 174 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Two of them went to senior WR JoJo Natson, who led the receivers with seven catches for 81 yards. The defense gained three turnovers in the contest (two interceptions and a fumble recovery) and were led by LB Ulysses Gilbert, who had nine total stops (five solo).
ZIPS SEASON TO DATE: The Zips went 2-2 in their non-conference schedule with a home win over Virginia Military to open the season and a road victory at Marshall. Their losses came on the road at nationally ranked Wisconsin and at home to Appalachian State. UA opened MAC play with a come-from-behind win at Kent State 31-27 to retain possession of the Wagon Wheel trophy.
OFFENSE: UA is averaging 37.7 points and 414.5 yards per game
RUSHING: Manny Morgan 50 carries – 240 yards
PASSING: Thomas Woodson 84-126-4 1247 yards 13 touchdowns
RECEIVING: JoJo Natson 33 receptions-484 yards-seven touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Zips are allowing 33.5 points and 467 yards per game
TACKLES: Ulysses Gilbert (36-28-64)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Gilbert 8-34 yards
SACKS: Gilbert & Jamal Marcus with two
INTERCEPTIONS: Kyron Brown 2-34
PASS BREAKUPS: Larry Hope with five
PUNTING: Nick Gasser 27-38.9 average
PLACE KICKING: Tom O’ Leary 40 points (4-4 FG/ 28-31 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Van Edwards 10-29.6
PUNT RETURNS: JoJo Natson 9-109 (TD)
ZIPS NOTES: UA is 9-2 in its last ten games overall and 4-1 in its last four games at InfoCision Stadium, dating back to last season…The Zips six game winning streak inside the MAC is their best streak in conference play since joining the league in 1992…The game with the Broncos marks just the third time the Zips will be playing a nationally ranked team at home (Virginia Tech, and Marshall were the others) and the first at InfoCision Stadium…UA is 1-25 lifetime against ranked teams (0-1 so far this season, losing at Wisconsin 54-10 on September 10th). The lone win came against Marshall at the Rubber Bowl in November, 2002
THE SERIES: The game is the18th in the series, with the Broncos holding a commanding 13-4 advantage…WMU has won the last two games in the series and five of the last six, including the last meeting in 2011 at Kalamazoo, 68-19…The eighth lifetime game in Akron, with WMU holding a 5-2 edge, and the second at InfoCision Stadium. The Broncos posted a 56-10 win in 2010.
WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS (6-0, 2-0 MAC):
LAST SATURDAY: The Broncos posted a 45-30 win to defeat head coach P.J. Fleck’s alma mater, the Northern Illinois Huskies, for the first time since he took over Western Michigan.
Fifth year senior QB Zach Terrell completed 18-of-24 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns and added one on the ground. WR Corey Davis had six receptions for 122 yards and a pair of scores. Junior RB Jarvion Franklin rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns. The defense was led by LB Robert Spillane who had 11 total tackles (four solo)
WMU SEASON TO DATE: The Broncos opened the 2016 season at Northwestern and came away with a last minute 22-21 win over the Wildcats. After a home opening rout of North Carolina Central, they traveled to Illinois, defeating the Fighting Illini. WMU finished the non-conference schedule with a home win over Georgia State. The Broncos opened their MAC schedule with a road win at Central Michigan
OFFENSE; Western Michigan is averaging 44.8 points & 478.5 yards per game
RUSHING: Jamauri Bogan 90 carries-530 yards five touchdown
PASSING: Zach Terrell 101-143-0 1390 yds. 15 touchdowns
RECEIVING: Corey Davis 36-589 eight touchdowns
DEFENSE: Broncos are allowing 20.5 points & 346.7 yards oer game
TOTAL TACKLES: Robert Spillane 29-25-54
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Asantay Brown 5.5-15
SACKS: Keion Adams 4.5-23
INTERCEPTIONS: Three with two
PUNTING: James Coleman 12 – 41.9 avg. per kick
PLACE KICKING: Butch Hampton 53 points (6-9 FG / 35-35 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Darius Phillips 16-25.8 yds. per return
PUNT RETURNS: Phillips 8-16.2 yds. Per return
BRONCOS NOTES: Western Michigan comes into the game with an eight-game winning streak, dating back to last season, and is tied for third longest active winning streak in the FBS (with Ohio State behind Alabama and Washington)…At 6-0 the Broncos are off to their best start since 1941…The wins over northwestern and Illinois marked the first time a WMU team has beaten two Big Ten opponents in school history…WMU is currently the only team in the FBS without a turnover…last Saturday’s win over NIU was the first over the Huskies since 2008…WR Corey Davis is the current leader among FBS receivers with 4,314 yards. He broke the school record for receiving touchdowns last Saturday against the Huskies with a pair giving up 41 for his career…The win over NIU made the Broncos bowl eligible for the third consecutive season and the first MAC team in 2016