Zips hope to tackle undefeated Bobcats

Written by: D.J. Johnson

Only one undefeated team remains in the Mid-American Conference. On Saturday afternoon, the Akron Zips will line up across from that team.

The Ohio Bobcats (6-0, 2-0 MAC) will host the Zips (1-5, 0-2 MAC) in a match-up of two teams that have seen their seasons head in opposite directions.

“We just got to buckle it up and get ready for a great team,” said head coach Terry Bowden.

While Ohio is looking to crack into the top 25, Akron will be looking for that all-important second victory, something that has not happened since 2009.

The Bobcats are now bowl-eligible and halfway to a perfect regular season. The Zips may have to play perfectly in order to ruin those aspirations.

“We have go there and play really good football,” Bowden said. “As long as our boys continue to play hard, good things are going to happen.”

While Ohio’s record is flawless, their play of late has been anything but. Last week, they snuck by one-win Buffalo, 38-31. It took most of the fourth quarter for them to gain any breathing room.

Two weeks ago, they squeaked out a victory over winless Massachusetts, 37-34. A 17-point fourth quarter fueled the Bobcats.

The Zips have been at the opposite end of the stick. In four of their five losses, they have been within one score midway through the fourth quarter.

A week ago, a 10-0 lead at halftime over Bowling Green turned into a 24-10 loss by the game’s end.

The formula is simple: the Zips must turn close losses into wins.

“(Our players) have to see how far they are coming, even if the record doesn’t show,” Bowden said.

To match a high-scoring Bobcat offense (36.8 points per game), Bowden will once again rely on the strength of his quarterback.

First-year starter Dalton Williams has emerged as the centerpiece of the offense, throwing for 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season. He ranks fourth in the nation in passing yards, with 1,907 (317.8 per game).

Williams is not alone — in the last few weeks, the Zips have amped up their running game. After a slow start, sophomore back Jawon Chisholm has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the last four games.

After a shutout in last week’s first half, the Zips defense surrendered 24 second-half points to Bowling Green. They are now tasked with containing a Bobcat offense that has not scored fewer than 24 points per game.

Junior running back Beau Blankenship has literally carried Ohio, with his 181 rushes for 843 yards. He has not had fewer than 25 carries in any game this year.

Quarterback Tyler Tettleton has continued to build on last year’s success, throwing ten touchdowns and only one interception so far this season.

His 328-yard performance last season against the Zips led to a 37-20 victory.

Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.