Zips hope to Knox out Tennessee

Written by: D.J. Johnson

What a difference a week makes.

Coming off a 66-6 victory over their Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent Morgan State, Terry Bowden and the Akron Zips will travel to Tennessee this Saturday to play in front of a crowd of more than 100,000.

The Zips (1-2) face their toughest test of the season in the Volunteers (2-1), as the men in orange look for a tune-up before SEC play and one of the hardest schedules in the country. Still, the outlook in Akron remains optimistic.

“They put their pants on the same way we do,” Bowden said. “It’s just a ballgame.”

Bowden’s attitude has certainly resonated throughout his locker room. Whether or not the Zips can match the Volunteers’ athleticism may be another thing.

“Any time you’re playing a team in the Big Ten or the SEC, your biggest concern is that their physical talents will overwhelm you,” Bowden said.

The first-year head coach may have flashbacks when he enters Neyland Stadium on Saturday night, where he coached SEC foe Auburn from 1993 to 1998. This time, he will be stepping in with a team from the MAC.

Labeled as 34.5-point underdogs, the Zips will try to replicate several major upsets in the first three weeks of the college football season.

“We have to go out there with that mentality of ‘Why not us’?” Bowden said. “Every Saturday, somebody upsets somebody.”

Leading the potential upset falls on the shoulders of Akron’s quarterback Dalton Williams.

Having already eclipsed the 1,000-yard passing mark in three games, Williams has proven to be Akron’s most consistent offensive threat. His ten touchdown passes ranks second in the nation.

Fortunately for the Zips, the quarterback’s weekly progressions have been normal after suffering an injury in the third quarter against Morgan State.

Tennessee’s pass-heavy offense is led by their standout, Tyler Bray. Averaging 300 passing yards per game, the junior has tossed for eight scores and just two interceptions.

Sandwiched between a loss to #18 Florida a week ago and a matchup with #5 Georgia on Sept. 29, the Volunteers will hit the field Saturday desperate to win.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Knoxville, where the 102,455 fans will expect a victory from the Volunteers.

The Zips think otherwise.