Zips football kicks off conference play at Kent State

By Jake Allen, [email protected]

The University of Akron football team will travel to play its biggest rival, the Kent State Golden Flashes, in the Wagon Wheel Challenge on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The Zips enter with a 2-2 record, and are coming off a tough 45-38 loss to Appalachian State University at home, and will begin the in-conference part of their schedule against Kent State. The Golden Flashes enter at 1-3, and are coming off a 48-0 blowout loss at Alabama last Saturday.

The Zips have won two out of the past three meetings, including last year’s 20-0 win in Akron. Akron leads the all-time series 32-24-2.

Kent State will rely on the solid two-way play of freshman quarterback Mylik Mitchell. The Cleveland native has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 363 yards, five touchdowns, and only one interception this season. Mitchell has 87 rushing yards.

The Flashes also will showcase freshman running back Justin Rankin (Oberlin, Ohio). Rankin has an excellent 5.2 yards per carry through four games, and he leads the team with 230 yards and one touchdown.

While Kent State wants to see what its young studs can do, the Zips will hope that their high-flying offense will be too much for the Flashes’ defense.

Quarterback Thomas Woodson will look to extend his best season ever, as he has passed for 1,247 yards with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions, while completing 66.7 percent of his passes. Woodson is a major contributor for a Zips offense that is scoring 40 points per game.

Aiding Woodson are a selection of the best receivers in the MAC. Junior Jerome Lane leads the MAC in catches (29) and receiving yards (488), and he is currently fifth in the nation in receiving yards. Jojo Natson (24 catches, 355 yards, five touchdowns) and Austin Wolf (15 catches, 235 yards, two touchdowns) have also emerged as top receivers for the Zips.

The rushing game has been good as well. Through four games, three different rushers have run for at least 100 yards (Warren Ball, Van Edwards, and Manny Morgan).

As good as the offense has been, the defense has struggled mightily. The defense is allowing 452.5 yards per game and 40.3 points per game. Defense will be a major factor for the Zips as they enter the in-conference part of their schedule.

This game is the first of eight straight conference games for the Zips. It all kicks off at Dix Stadium in Kent on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m.