Thank You Akron Zips

In a week where everything wrong with college sports was exposed, one game Saturday made me proud of the NCAA again. While Sports Illustrated and Yahoo! reported stories of big schools from Alabama to Oklahoma State cheating to get ahead the tiny Akron Zips proved there are some good things left.

If placing a zipper on your helmet makes you a good football team then you do it dangit.

If placing a zipper on your helmet makes you a better football team then put it on there already!

Akron entered the largest stadium in the country against one of college football’s most prestigious programs in Michigan. Michigan had just defeated Notre Dame while Akron had not won against a FBS school since 2010. Needless to say Michigan was a huge favorite. A 37 point favorite to be exact.

The game was an obvious candidate for the budget games as I was pretty sure it was guaranteed win for the Wolverines. Michigan’s coach Brady Hoke thought so too apparently calling it a glazed donut game. It was more about how the school was giving away donuts to entice students for the early kickoff against a poor opponent but still.

Michigan scored quickly in the first to take 7-0 lead, but that was all the points it mustered in the first half. Akron had a chance to kick two field goals before halftime but bad clock management made them tough kicks. Both were missed and came back to haunt the Zips.

Akron then had two first and goals in the fourth quarter where it came up empty. One was a poor pass intercepted in the end zone and the other a turnover on downs as time expired. If the Zips had made one of those two previous field goals it would have only needed another one down 28-27. Instead it was 28-24 forcing a touchdown. In summary, Akron had four great chances to win the game and all slipped away.

Michigan had superior size clogging up the running game of Akron. Yet the skill positions, such as receiver, were even. The Zips ended with more passing yards (311-248) and more first downs (21-19). This was a team that was pounded at Central Florida and could barely beat FCS James Madison for God sakes!

Those passing stats from a MAC school should never happen against a Michigan team loaded with prized recruits. The players on Akron probably couldn’t get a scholarship offer anywhere else in FBS.

Michigan has blown games to inferior teams before at home. There was FCS Appalachian State, and then came Toledo out of the MAC. Saturday would have been the worse though. It should have been the worse as Akron deserved to win this game. Michigan did not.

The faces of the Michigan fans told the story. What was supposed to be a three-hour party for Michigan that involved boosters pledging money turned into a horror movie. Losing here would scar Michigan yet again. Ohio State fans would have new ammo to ridicule their rivals with for another decade. “Hey, remember when your boys lost to the last place MAC school at home in 2013?”

The things you find on Twitter. Click save image as Ohio State fans.

The things you find on Twitter. Click save image as Ohio State fans.

Akron reminded us what is great about college sports. While some schools will cheat to score recruits, some build programs the right way. It is why I love the lower levels of college football so much. Scandals occur in the MAC and FCS too but they are smaller and less frequent. The players are there because the big name programs did not want them. Agents and boosters are in no hurry to throw money at their way. A football scholarship means a lot to these kids.

So when an Akron with their zipper helmets (love the look) takes the lead in the fourth quarter against Michigan I was loving every second of it. It was more compelling than Alabama at Texas A&M. I wanted to see the Zips make history.

Thank you Akron. Thank you for reminding us what is right with college football.

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Losing to a D-II school equals a long year

This is a new Monday feature called “Sensor Scans” where we find the hidden gems and Easter eggs from the college sports week.

While some fan bases are hitting the panic button after unexpected losses Saturday (Florida, Southern Cal, and Texas) a few others are trying to pretend their football team does not exist.

Mississippi Valley State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) a FCS program dropped a home game to a division II program Delta State 24-14. It’s the equivalent of a college student losing a chess game to a six grader. Maybe losing at Wii Bowling to a senior citizen.

The Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State has done the ultimate shame a D-I program can do on a football field to its fans, alumni and community residents of Itta Bena. Adding extra insult, Delta State even has the unique nickname of the “Statesmen.” Nothing like saying “Dude, we were owned by the Statesmen!”

Mississippi Valley State should have been able to recruit any kid on Delta State’s roster. Talent should have been on their side. I was shocked from this highlight video that Delta State has the all-time series lead as the Statesmen now has a 4-1 advantage after Saturday.

A few questions from that video.

1. Why is the Delta State coach having a curfew? You just beat a division I school. Go nuts Statesmen. He even said “We’re going to bounce back from this.” You only say that if you lose a game. Heck he even spent time explaining why his team executed a fake punt. You’re an inferior team on paper so there’s no need to defend a trick play.

2. It appears that Delta wore Mississippi Valley down. How is that possible? A division I program should have more players on their roster and therefore more depth.

3. Is Katie Smith single?

It is true that Delta State is a very good division II program with great postseason success but come on Mississippi Valley State. You can’t get owned by them at home. At least only 2,139 saw the game. How can the Delta Devils come back from this? I wish I had an answer and I bet Mississippi Valley State coaches wish they had one too.

Ranking notes

The new AP top 25 poll is out with really no surprises. What did catch my eye is how the Miami Hurricanes were unranked prior to their win over Florida on Saturday. To go from unranked to 15 is an insane jump that makes me wonder if Miami boosters are paying the pollsters. Just kidding. Too soon?

Bowling Green State out of the MAC also stood out. The 2-0 Falcons are not ranked but did receive seven votes. For a team not many know about it is great to see them get some love from the pollsters. With more wins BGSU should crack the top 25.

FCS vs. the MAC
While Bowling Green is doing well some of its Mid-American Conference colleagues are not. Four MAC vs. FCS games took place on Saturday ending in a 2-2 draw. The MAC is just a notch above FCS and is vulnerable to any competent team. Akron slipped past James Madison 35-33 and Central Michigan rallied from 21-7 to beat New Hampshire 24-21. Central had to convert a 3rd and 15 to get into field goal range on its final drive.

The MAC schools who laid an egg include Western Michigan losing to Nicholls State 27-23. Nicholls State suffered injuries to key players including at quarterback and still won on the road. FCS Maine defeated UMass 24-14 in what should be no surprise as UMass was an FCS team two years ago.

Dogfight of the week
Best game from week 2 goes to Eastern Illinois beating Southern Illinois 40-37 in two overtimes. Eastern Illinois upset FBS San Diego State last week 40-19. Southern Illinois came close to beating Big Ten conference monopoly Illinois 42-34 last week too. These are two great FCS teams in Illinois. I don’t think either of them would have lost to Delta State. At home 24-14? Epic fail.