Akron vs. Ball State prediction and game preview. The Zips look to bounce back from their first MAC loss when they visit the Cardinals on Saturday.
Akron vs. Ball State Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 – 3 p.m. ET
Where: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, Ind.
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
Akron was feeling good after back-to-back victories to open MAC play. Then came last week’s matchup with nationally ranked Western Michigan, and the Zips were run off the field, 41-0, despite breaking and burning an oar to mock the Broncos’ Row the Boat motto. Not a good look.
Ball State, on the other hand, opened conference action with two defeats by a combined 10 points. It bounced back Saturday, though, with a 31-21 victory at Buffalo and had its best offensive performance of the season. That’s a good sign considering Akron also ranks as one of the worst defenses in the MAC.
What To Know About Akron
At least one report stated quarterback Thomas Woodson would return to face Western Michigan last week after missing the previous two games with an injury. Instead, Tra’Von Chapman started again and struggled while throwing two interceptions. There’s been no word on who will get the start against the Cardinals, but Akron should be worrying more about its defense anyway.
The Zips have allowed over 500 yards four times this season and rank 1oth in the 12-team MAC in total defense. Western Michigan converted 14 of 18 third downs last week and rushed for 378 yards.
What To Know About Ball State
It won’t get any easier for the Zips’ run defense this week and James Gilbert looks to put up more big numbers. Gilbert ran for 264 yards and two touchdowns last week against Buffalo and leads the MAC in rushing yards (854) and rushing TDs (10). The sophomore is averaging 174.7 yards over the last three games.
The Cardinals could use a turnover to get Gilbert on the field more often. They haven’t forced one in either of the last two games and are allowing an average of 494.8 yard over the last four.
Offense: Ball State – Gilbert gives the Cardinals the edge.
Defense: Even – Toledo is allowing 5.70 yards per play to ranks seventh in the MAC. Ball State is eighth at 5.85.
Special Teams: Akron – Van Edwards Jr. leads the conference in average yards per kick return.
Coaching: Even – Both staffs need to make adjustments to their struggling defenses.
Intangibles: Ball State – Akron is beginning a two-games-in-five-days stretch that could weigh on its mind heading into this one.
Matchup To Watch
Gilbert vs. Akron’s rush defense
Western Michigan exposed the Zips’ run defense last week and came away with an easy victory. If Akron allows Gilbert to get off to a fast start, this one could get ugly.
Spread: Ball State -3.5
Akron vs. Ball State Prediction
Gilbert goes for 185 yards and three touchdowns while Akron has trouble moving the ball as Ball State easily covers the spread.
Akron vs. Ball State final score prediction: Ball State 35, Akron 21