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The big 2014 Akron football preview: Athletic, exciting, and one year away

Gregory Shamus

For the first time in almost a decade, Akron seems to be building something. Terry Bowden might need one more year to get the Zips into the MAC's upper echelon, but they are relevant and exciting, and if they pull an early-season upset, look out.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Okay, so Akron wasn't actually that good in 2013...

...but they mattered for the first time in a while. You noticed they existed. They almost made a bowl.

Akron was awful in 2009, a little worse in 2010, and still a little worse in 2011. In 2012, Terry Bowden took over a program just seven years removed from a MAC title, but it was perhaps the most hopeless in a conference that always features some hopelessness at the bottom. Kent State was about to break through in 2012, EMU was coming off of a 6-6 year, and we didn't yet realize just how awful UMass was going to be.

From the very start, however, Bowden brought hope to a city that can use a bit of it. The Zips improved from 118th in the F/+ rankings in 2011 to 109th in 2012. The win total didn't change (1-11 both years), but the product did. And in 2013, the wins followed suit. Akron ranked only 108th, but after going 0-4 in one-possession games a year earlier, the Zips went 4-3, both playing in and winning more close games.

In the end, the one Akron game you watched in 2013 -- No. 17 on this list -- just barely kept UA away from bowl eligibility. But there's consolation in coming so close. After winning six games from 2009-12, Akron won five last year and returns a boatload of experience in 2014. Hell of a job so far, Coach Bowden.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 5-7 | Adj. Record: 4-8 | Final F/+ Rk: 108
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
29-Aug at Central Florida 21 7-38 L 18.5 - 31.9 L
7-Sep James Madison N/A 35-33 W 21.7 - 35.5 L
14-Sep at Michigan 37 24-28 L 27.0 - 31.7 L
21-Sep UL-Lafayette 86 30-35 L 31.1 - 25.1 W
28-Sep at Bowling Green 47 14-31 L 30.2 - 24.4 W -4.0
5-Oct Ohio 104 3-43 L 2.9 - 31.4 L -7.1
12-Oct at Northern Illinois 60 20-27 L 16.0 - 14.3 W -4.0
19-Oct at Miami-OH 123 24-17 W 24.6 - 38.2 L -5.7
26-Oct Ball State 57 24-42 L 27.2 - 28.0 L -7.1
2-Nov Kent State 106 16-7 W 17.5 - 22.9 L -9.3
16-Nov at Massachusetts 118 14-13 W 17.5 - 26.4 L -5.4
29-Nov Toledo 62 31-29 W 24.0 - 23.3 W -5.6
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -14.7% 114 -4.3% 83 -2.9% 110
Points Per Game 20.2 110 28.6 74
Adj. Points Per Game 21.5 109 27.8 65

2. Four of five

It had been eight years since Akron won four of five games. Back then, the Zips lost at Ball State but beat Bowling Green, Ohio, Kent, and Northern Illinois to secure both the MAC East title and, in Detroit, the MAC title.

This has been a program specializing in winning between four and seven games (the Zips have done so in 20 of 28 FBS seasons), never reaching a bowl but always finishing ahead of other MAC comers. But J.D. Brookhart's time in charge flamed out at the end (3-9 in 2009), and the hire of Rob Ianello (2-22 in 2010-11) proved disastrous.

If nothing else, Akron's late-2013 improvement proved that, well, Akron is capable of improving. It had been a while since there was affirmation of that.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 5 games): Opponent 29.7, Akron 25.7 (minus-4.0)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 3 games): Opponent 28.0, Akron 14.5 (minus-13.5)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 4 games): Opponent 25.2, Akron 21.6 (minus-3.6)

After competitive, exciting losses to Michigan and UL-Lafayette, the Zips bottomed out for a bit. But there's no question they rallied late in the year, mostly by becoming above-average on defense and not completely hopeless on offense. The weakness should get stronger in 2014, and the strength has a chance to do the same if a blue-chip transfer up front pans out alright.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.14 65 IsoPPP+ 101.6 52
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.6% 100 Succ. Rt. + 79.2 118
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 31.9 104 Def. FP+ 97.4 84
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.8 100 Redzone S&P+ 90.4 96
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 20.9 ACTUAL 21 +0.1
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 108 118 119 113
RUSHING 108 122 125 117
PASSING 77 104 108 90
Standard Downs 119 124 67
Passing Downs 100 104 60
Q1 Rk 118 1st Down Rk 121
Q2 Rk 107 2nd Down Rk 106
Q3 Rk 117 3rd Down Rk 114
Q4 Rk 112

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Kyle Pohl 6'3, 213 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 225 402 2438 14 10 56.0% 21 5.0% 5.4
Nick Hirschman 6'4, 239 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 8 15 162 3 0 53.3% 2 11.8% 8.3
Tommy Woodson 6'1, 233 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)








Chandler Kincade 6'5, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)








3. Raise that completion rate

Running back Jawon Chisholm averaged a healthy 6.0 highlight yards per opportunity in 2013; in a four-game span late in the season, he rushed 79 times for 475 yards (6.0 per carry) and four scores. Big Zach D'Orazio turned into a big-play threat, averaging 13.5 yards per catch with a long of 77, and L.T. Smith averaged 17.8 yards per catch. In all, eight Zips had at least one catch of 29 yards. There is big-play potential here, as evidenced by Akron's No. 52 ranking in IsoPPP above.

Now ... about that efficiency. Big plays don't necessarily matter if you're facing a steady stream of second- and third-and-long. Despite big-play potential, Akron had the third-least-efficient offense in the country on standard downs and the eighth-least efficient overall. The passing game was inefficient, and the run game was horrifically inefficient. Despite a lot of short passing and a lot of passing on standard downs (when the defense has to account for the run), the Zips just couldn't get anything going until they had to; the short passes were too short and not completed nearly enough.

If you're going to average 10.8 yards per completion, your completion rate better be around 70 percent. Kyle Pohl's was 56 percent. That's not going to work.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Jawon Chisholm RB 6'1, 206 Sr. 2 stars (5.1) 188 892 8 4.7 6.0 31.9%
Conor Hundley RB 5'10, 216 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 100 425 0 4.3 2.4 41.0%
Kyle Pohl QB 6'3, 213 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 51 234 3 4.6 2.5 49.0%
D.J. Jones RB 5'8, 191 So. NR 25 109 0 4.4 4.9 28.0%
Fransohn Bickley WR 5'6, 138 So. NR 7 29 0 4.1 2.0 71.4%
Manny Morgan RB 5'8, 180 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Zach D'Orazio WR-Y 6'2, 213 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 67 42 567 62.7% 16.9% 58.7% 8.5 51 8.3 63.3
Fransohn Bickley WR-H 5'6, 138 So. NR 56 39 407 69.6% 14.1% 60.0% 7.3 -47 7.3 45.4
Jerrod Dillard WR-X 49 26 320 53.1% 12.3% 37.0% 6.5 -29 7.2 35.7
L.T. Smith WR-Z 6'0, 203 Sr. NR 45 24 428 53.3% 11.3% 52.5% 9.5 107 10.3 47.8
Jawon Chisholm RB 6'1, 206 Sr. 2 stars (5.1) 39 26 210 66.7% 9.8% 55.6% 5.4 -99 5.2 23.4
Mykel Traylor-Bennett WR-Y 6'3, 205 So. 2 stars (5.3) 34 12 112 35.3% 8.6% 51.9% 3.3 -94 3.3 12.5
Tyrell Goodman WR-Z 6'2, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 34 17 243 50.0% 8.6% 59.4% 7.1 7 7.5 27.1
Andrew Pratt WR 6'5, 203 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 18 10 188 55.6% 4.5% 56.3% 10.4 57 11.8 21.0
Conor Hundley RB 5'10, 216 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 12 8 16 66.7% 3.0% 44.4% 1.3 -79 1.4 1.8
Imani Davis WR-X 5'9, 175 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 12 8 56 66.7% 3.0% 50.0% 4.7 -39 2.8 6.3
Tyler Williams WR-H 5'7, 161 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 6 17 50.0% 3.0% 44.4% 1.4 -66 0.8 1.9
Dee Frieson WR 8 7 15 87.5% 2.0% 66.7% 1.9 -58 1.5 1.7
Jerome Lewis TE 6'3, 231 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 4 4 15 100.0% 1.0% 66.7% 3.8 -25 4.4 1.7
D.J. Jones RB 5'8, 191 So. NR 2 1 2 50.0% 0.5% 0.0% 1.0 -12 0.9 0.2
Keith Sconiers WR 2 1 4 50.0% 0.5% 100.0% 2.0 -10 2.2 0.4
Jon Root TE 2 2 21 100.0% 0.5% 100.0% 10.5 1 5.8 2.3
Austin Wolf WR 6'3, 204 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)








4. Get to know Fransohn Bickley

Fransohn Bickley was a star receiver for Akron's storied St. Vincent-St. Mary high school program. He racked up over 1,100 receiving yards as a high school senior, scored on punt returns, was a member of a state championship relay team, and was a contributor on the basketball team as well. He's quick as hell and was the No. 2 target for the Zips as a true freshman.

So why did he fall to Akron? Why didn't bigger schools give him a look? Because he's 5'6, 138 pounds.

The top five Akron wideouts not named Bickley average 6'2, 206, which sets the table pretty nicely for a waterbug type, albeit one who makes Brandon Banks look like he's carrying a few extra pounds.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 77.2 2.55 3 37.0% 64.4% 22.8% 121.7 4.2% 4.6%
Rank 124 115 89 91 88 114 43 55 37
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Travis Switzer C 6'2, 296 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 27
Jarrod Pughsley LT 23
Dylan Brumbaugh RG 6'5, 310 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 16
Zenel Demhasaj RT 12
Henry Orelus LG 8
Joe McNamara LG 6'1, 312 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 4
Quaison Osborne LT 6'3, 297 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 3
Joe Petrides RG 0
Cedric Brittnum RT 6'4, 316 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0
Michael Casimos OL 6'2, 297 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0
Ryan Kortokrax OL 6'3, 297 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)
Scott Boyett OL 6'7, 315 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)

5. Waiting on the line

So when a running back shows strong explosiveness but almost never makes it into the open field (Jawon Chisholm made it five yards downfield only 32 percent of the time in 2013), one can pin a lot of his problems on the offensive line. Obviously some of the blame could go to the runner if he dances around too much in the backfield or doesn't take advantage of the blocks given to him; this becomes reasonably relevant when you notice that, while Chisholm's Opportunity Rate was just 32 percent, backfield mate Conor Hundley's was 41 percent. Perhaps Chisholm brought some of his problems on himself.

Still, no matter who was carrying the ball, the line's run-blocking stats were gruesome. Akron ranked 124th in Adj. Line Yards and 114th in Stuff Rate (run stops behind the line). The quick passing game helped the sack rates out a bit, and Chisholm's late-season success suggests that the line figured some things out.

But the loss of three players with at least eight career starts suggests that the line might take another step backwards, at least early in the year. Two-year starting center Travis Switzer does come back, and four players have amassed a semi-respectable 50 career starts, but this line will probably need some time to gel.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.14 61 IsoPPP+ 96.4 86
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 40.6% 44 Succ. Rt. + 105.7 39
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 29.5 84 Def. FP+ 100.5 55
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.3 78 Redzone S&P+ 92.8 79
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.5 ACTUAL 19.0 -0.5
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 60 46 39 70
RUSHING 64 43 42 58
PASSING 67 55 39 85
Standard Downs 48 57 43
Passing Downs 56 18 124
Q1 Rk 25 1st Down Rk 25
Q2 Rk 42 2nd Down Rk 61
Q3 Rk 91 3rd Down Rk 106
Q4 Rk 90

6. Break but never bend?

A healthy defensive success rate -- and to be sure, Akron's No. 39 ranking in Success Rate+ is pretty healthy -- suggests a pretty high level of aggression. No bend-don't-break here. Play tight defense, including perhaps a healthy amount of man-to-man coverage, make tackles, and force mistakes. Akron did this pretty well and leveraged opponents into passing downs rather successfully.

Once in passing downs, Akron had one of the 20 most efficient defenses in the country ... and the third-worst when it comes to big plays allowed. What's the opposite of bend-don't-break? Because Chuck Amato's Zips defense was that.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 101.5 2.73 3.90 36.7% 65.1% 21.1% 103.3 6.8% 5.3%
Rank 55 38 115 39 52 40 57 19 96
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Albert Presley DE 12 30.0 4.4% 7.5 5.5 0 1 1 0
C.J. James DE 8 24.5 3.6% 7.0 3.5 0 1 2 0
Nordly Capi DE 6'3, 249 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 11 24.0 3.5% 4.5 2.0 0 0 2 0
Cody Grice NG 5'11, 283 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 12 20.5 3.0% 6.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Moses McCray DT 10 17.5 2.6% 2.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Nico Caponi DT 9 15.5 2.3% 6.5 5.5 0 0 2 0
Keontae Hollis NG 6'1, 295 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 10 13.5 2.0% 1.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Austin Bailey DL 7 6.0 0.9% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Alfonso Horner DE 6'3, 217 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 5 5.5 0.8% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Nmesoma Okafor DL 6'6, 230 Sr. NR 3 2.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Se'von Pittman DE 6'3, 269 So. 4 stars (5.9)






Brock Boxen DE 6'2, 250 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Anthony Clark DE 6'4, 276 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)






7. Transfers in the trenches

The defensive line was a strength in 2013, which could be a problem considering the top two ends and two of the top three tackles are gone. Colorado State transfer Nordly Capi is back, and nose guard Cody Grice is short but quick, but the depth needs some plumping up.

Technically, depth could be an issue no matter what Se'von Pittman does, but if the former Ohio State signee who transferred to UA after some off-the-field issues still has some of that four-star potential in him, he could join Capi and Grice in one of the MAC's best starting lines. And if one of two three-star freshmen is ready to roll, that will help immensely.

Bowden was known for taking in second-chance kids during his tenure at North Alabama (2009-11). In doing the same at Akron, he is building one of the most high-ceiling defenses in the conference. Akron will have three former four-star recruits scattered among its front seven, and while these players still have hype to live up to, one has to like the athleticism and potential.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jatavis Brown WILL 5'11, 212 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 11 82.0 12.0% 6.5 2.0 0 2 2 0
Justin March SAM 6'0, 222 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 60.0 8.8% 4.5 1.0 3 2 0 0
Dylan Evans WILL 6'2, 216 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 12 43.0 6.3% 6.0 2.0 0 1 2 0
C.J. Mizell MIKE 6'2, 230 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 8 32.0 4.7% 7.5 2.0 0 1 0 0
Nick Rossi MIKE 6'0, 230 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 11 25.0 3.7% 2.0 0.0 0 0 2 0
Jamel Turner LB 6'2, 215 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 6 12.0 1.8% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jon Shelby SAM 6'1, 197 Sr. NR 4 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Newman Williams LB 6'2, 240 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Malachi Freeman CB 12 56.0 8.2% 1 0 3 12 0 0
Anthony Holmes ROV 11 45.0 6.6% 0 0 2 3 0 0
Johnny Robinson FS 5'9, 187 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 10 27.5 4.0% 1 0 2 2 0 0
Emmanuel Lartey CB 8 25.0 3.7% 0 0 0 1 1 0
Bre' Ford ROV 5'10, 206 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 11 19.5 2.8% 0.5 0 1 1 0 0
Bryce Cheek CB 6'0, 188 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 7 15.0 2.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Donte Williams CB 5'10, 172 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 5 10.0 1.5% 0 0 0 2 0 0
DeAndre Scott CB 5'11, 174 So. 2 stars (5.3) 5 9.5 1.4% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Devonte Morgan FS 5'10, 185 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 6 9.5 1.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bill Alexander CB 9 8.0 1.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Martel Durant CB 5'10, 168 Sr. NR 6 7.5 1.1% 0 0 1 1 0 0
John Senter CB 5'7, 161 Jr. NR 6 7.5 1.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sean Graves S 5 4.5 0.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cory Morrow S 6'0, 204 So. NR 3 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zach Guiser S 6'0, 195 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)
Kris Givens CB 5'11, 175 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)
Jamal Baggett S 5'11, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)






8. Missing Malachi

The secondary allowed almost as many plays as it made, but if there's one player Akron could miss severely in 2014, it's Malachi Freeman, who intercepted or broke up almost as many passes (15) as the rest of the Akron secondary combined (17). He made a ton of tackles, which suggests both that he spent a lot of time near the line of scrimmage and that the man he was covering caught plenty of passes.

In all, the secondary returns only one first-stringer but all second-stringers. Make of that what you will.

Freeman's absence could change the identity of the defense a bit, but expect similar aggression overall. Chuck Amato is still the coordinator, after all.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Zach Paul 6'3, 221 Jr. 65 42.9 8 22 17 60.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Robert Stein 5'8, 171 Jr. 44 55.8 12 0 27.3%
Zach Paul 6'3, 221 Jr. 9 59.3 2 0 22.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Robert Stein 5'8, 171 Jr. 29-30 6-9 66.7% 3-7 42.9%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Fransohn Bickley KR 5'6, 138 So. 10 16.6 0
L.T. Smith KR 6'0, 203 Sr. 9 21.1 0
Tyler Williams PR 5'7, 161 Sr. 11 1.9 0
Imani Davis PR 5'9, 175 Jr. 10 3.9 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 110
Field Goal Efficiency 99
Punt Return Efficiency 74
Kick Return Efficiency 108
Punt Efficiency 65
Kickoff Efficiency 110
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 21

9. Dragged down by special teams

The most positive aspect of Akron's special teams unit in 2013 was that opponents tended to miss makeable kicks. That obviously isn't a very replicable trait from year to year.

Everybody returns, including Bickley at kick returner and a solid punter in Zach Paul, but for a team looking for one more close win to crack bowl eligibility, special teams didn't help much.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Howard NR
6-Sep at Penn State 38
20-Sep Marshall 59
27-Sep at Pittsburgh 43
TBD Bowling Green 60
TBD Eastern Michigan 122
TBD Massachusetts 123
TBD Miami (Ohio) 121
TBD at Ball State 81
TBD at Buffalo 107
TBD at Kent State 102
TBD at Ohio 108
Five-Year F/+ Rk -26.4% (120)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 118
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -2 / -1.4
TO Luck/Game -0.2
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 13 (7, 6)

10. One more year away?

Start back up at the top of the returnees list. Kyle Pohl and Zach D'Orazio are juniors. So are backups like Conor Hundley and receivers Tyrell Goodman, Andrew Pratt, and Imani Davis. Bickley is a sophomore, as is receiver Mykel Traylor-Bennett. There will be at least two juniors on the starting offensive line, plus perhaps a freshman or a sophomore. On defense, Se'von Pittman is a sophomore. Cody Grice is a junior, as are linebackers Jatavis Brown and Dylan Evans.

There are some high-impact seniors here, from Jawon Chisholm on offense to a good chunk of the secondary. But whatever Akron accomplishes in 2014, a hefty core of potential difference-makers will return in 2015.

This is good news, as I'm not sure the schedule will cooperate enough for Akron to get to a bowl game. If you assume that Akron improves to the No. 90-100 range -- certainly a possibility -- you can see three likely conference home wins against dreadful MAC squads, plus a win over Howard to start the season. That's four. Without a non-conference upset, the Zips would have to win two of three at Buffalo, Kent State, and Ohio to get to six. To get to seven (and a more likely bid) you need to either win all three or pull an upset.

That's doable, sure, but the most likely scenario is probably another year with five or six wins, followed by a breakthrough in 2015. But Akron fans have been waiting a while; waiting one more year might not be the end of the world. This program has momentum for the first time in nearly a decade. That's good enough for now.

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