Wagon Wheel up for grabs

By: DJ Johnson

The 2011 seasons for the Akron and Kent State football programs have strayed far from preseason expectations, as they have combined for four wins and 14 losses this year.

The two teams will meet Saturday in their annual rivalry game, looking to shed some kind of light on otherwise forgettable seasons.

Akron (1-8, 0-5 MAC) will look to recapture the Wagon Wheel and avoid the potential of another one-win season, while Kent State (3-6, 2-3 MAC) will look to repeat last year’s victory and pick up their third win in as many weeks.

“We are going to get the chance to play for a symbol,” said Akron Head Coach Rob Ianello. “It’s a classic example of all the positives of college football.”

The Zips will host Saturday’s game, scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff at InfoCision Stadium, as they look for their first victory since Sept. 24 (36-13 VMI). The Golden Flashes are 2-0 since their bye week, after starting the year 1-6.

“The last two weeks they have played extremely well,” Ianello said. “They have some guys on that roster that are very good.”

Kent is led by the defending MAC Defensive Player of the Year, lineman Roosevelt Nix, who has anchored this year’s third-ranked defense in the conference.

The Flashes lead the league in interceptions (12), rank second in rushing defense (121.4 yards per game) and third in sacks (18).

Despite the impressive defensive numbers, the KSU offense ranks near the bottom of the nation in scoring. Their offense has produced just 14 points per game this season.

The offense has come alive in recent weeks, most recently compiling 422 yards against Central Michigan last Friday. The Flashes narrowly got by the Chippewas, taking a 24-21 victory.

“Our team is continually getting better each week,” said Kent State Head Coach Darrell Hazell.

Improvement has been the constant theme in the Zips locker room as well, but with a setback last week in Oxford (a 35-3 loss to Miami), Ianello and company are in need of a win.

With only one win, UA is averaging just over 15 points per game, while giving up more than 34 on the season.

The Zips have won their last three home games against the Flashes, the most recent being a 28-20 victory in the first game between the two teams at InfoCision Stadium.

Saturday will also be senior day at InfoCision, as 14 seniors will be playing their last game on their home turf.

The Zips will finish their season with two away games at Buffalo and Western Michigan.

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