Underdogs No More: Zips Secure First Big Ten Victory Since 1894

Akron: 39 – Northwestern: 34


Zips players celebrating the big win over Northwestern. (Photo courtesy of Akron Athletics)

By Jordyn Etling, Sports Editor

The Akron Zips football team played Big 10 team Northwestern on Sept. 15, 2018, at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.

Leading up to the game, several online sources gave predictions that said Akron would lose to the Big 10 team. Most of the time by at least a fifteen to twenty-point difference. Prediction websites and passing fans could come together in the belief that Northwestern would have a relatively easy win.

However, the Zips had other plans. Akron ended up beating Northwestern 39-34 after halftime, coming back from an 18-point deficit.

Safety Alvin Davis Jr. had two interceptions: one of 97 yards and the other of 50 yards. Both interceptions resulted in touchdowns for the Zips. Linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

Looking closer at the halftime deficit, Northwestern had twice as many first downs and Akron had 15 penalties for 140 yards.

According to a statement on GoZips.com, head coach Terry Bowden understood all of the predictions and where his team sat at halftime. He just needed to get his team to believe that they could have a different result.

“Obviously when you’re coming to a Big Ten team like Northwestern, and you’re three-touchdown underdogs, everyone doubts,” Bowden said. “The first thing is to get your kids to believe that they can win. They were convinced they could. And then you go in there and you go down 21-3 at the half, now you want to tell your team ‘and continue to believe please.’ And they did. And they continued to believe.”

In the second half, Akron came to life and scored 36 points, 21 of them being defensive, along with a total of 213 yards for the offense in the third quarter alone.

According to the Zips Postgame notes, this win brings the team to a record of 2-0. The Zips haven’t begun a season with this record since 1993.

UA has not beaten a Big 10 team since 1894; the last win being against Ohio State, when John W. Heisman (yes, that Heisman) was the head coach. The score was 12-6 and ten footballs were awarded as an extra prize.

However, The University of Akron as it is known today didn’t even exist yet and neither did the Big 10.

In 1894, UA was still Buchtel College, a Unitarian institution and did not get renamed as a public university until 1913.

UA waited 19 years before becoming a public school while the Big 10 waited only two years to reach its current incarnation. In 1896, the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives was founded before later being shorted to the Big 10.

While conferences and leagues are forever changing, this is a major upset for Northwestern and a massive win for Akron. Zips fans everywhere are celebrating the victory and eagerly awaiting the rest of the season.

The Zips head to Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 22 to continue on in their season.