Football looks to retain Wagon Wheel against Kent State


The University of Akron’s football team has taken home the Wagon Wheel in the previous three meetings with their archrival, Kent State.

In those three years, Akron has had at least one win before facing off against Kent. This year, the Zips are 0-5; a win against the Flashes would be the first of the season.

We are thrilled to have an opportunity to play a rivalry game at this point in the season, UA Head Coach Rob Ianello said. The Kent State-Akron game is a very important game to the University of Akron, community, fans, players, alumni, and we are eager to get our team prepared and give a better performance then we did last week.

We know this will be a big challenge for us and we are going to see how we do this week.

In last week’s game against NIU, the Zips were overmatched, allowing 50 points on 520 yards of offense. So far this season, the Zips have only managed to score ten offensive touchdowns, with five of those coming from running back Alex Allen.

I am very pleased with Alex Allen, he had over 100 yards rushing last Saturday, Ianello said. I am pleased with the leadership he’s provided to this football team, and the offensive line has been slugging it out and we are continuing to progress with the running game and in general as a football team.

The bread and butter for Kent State is their defense. They are ranked number one in the MAC at rush defense, which could serve as a problem for Akron’s ground game.

They have a good front seven and a good secondary, Ianello said. It’s going to be very tough to run the ball against them and we need to come up with runs that are going to be effective. Our identity in our program will be to run the ball and stop the run, we want to run the football effectively, and when we get to our passing game where we want to be able to play-action 50 percent of the time and drop-back pass 50 percent of the time. That’s what I would like our identity to be. We are a work in progress.

Linebacker Cobrani Mixon, who has 39 tackles and two sacks this season, leads the defense of the Flashes. With such a physical defensive front, the Zips must try to rely on quarterback Patrick Nicely and the receiving core.

I’ve been pleased with Jalil Carter and what he has done so far, Gary Pride played very well at Indiana [on Sept. 25] and we have a few other young receivers, Ianello said. Like our team they are continuing to improve, and we have a lot of season left in us and I am very optimistic about that. The health of our team at this stage of the season is very good, and I’m pleased with it.

Akron will take part in this new chapter in the Kent State rivalry Saturday at Dix Stadium.

The rivalry has a special impact based on the fact that the two universities are separated by roughly 15 minutes.

It’s an exciting opportunity for us to play our rival, Ianello said. It’s like USC-UCLA, North Carolina-Duke. We recruit against each other and compete against each other in a lot of areas and it’s a great rivalry for Northeast Ohio and we just want to prepare our players to play a good Kent State team.