Ann Arbor, MI (Sports Network) - The 11th-ranked Michigan Wolverines take aim
at their 17th straight victory in The Big House as they host the Akron Zips
for a non-conference matchup.
The Zips are coming off a hard-fought, 35-33 victory over James Madison that
improved their record to 1-1. Now in his second season as Akron's head coach,
Terry Bowden has yet to defeat an FBS opponent with the program. Akron has
finished just 1-11 in each of the past three seasons. This will be its second
road game of the 2013 campaign. The Zips suffered a 38-7 setback at UCF in
their season opener. They have not won back-to-back games since 2008.
The Wolverines are fresh off a 41-30 win over Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium
in what was one of the marquee matchups of week two. The victory marked the
400th for the program at Michigan Stadium and the team's current 16-game win
streak in The Big House is the longest active home winning streak among BCS
conference teams. The Wolverines are 21-7 under coach Brady Hoke, who is 2-1
against Akron in his career.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools. Hoke faced
the Zips three times when he was the head coach of MAC rival Ball State.
Bowden is 1-0 versus Michigan in his career thanks to Auburn's 34-13 win over
the Wolverines in 1995.
Akron's first-year offensive coordinator A.J. Wilwee decided to employ a two-
quarterback system for the team's bout with JMU. The gameplan worked well as
Nick Hirschman and Kyle Pohl threw two touchdowns each to help Akron overcome
an early 13-0 deficit. Pohl, who started under center, finished 14-of-22 for
143 yards with two touchdowns to one interception. Hirschman amassed 144 yards
and three total touchdowns, while completing 6-of-10 pass attempts. Both
passers should see action in Ann Arbor.
Akron's receiving corps is very deep as 11 different players have made
multiple receptions already. The leader of the group is 5-foot-6, 138-pound
freshman Fransohn Bickley, who has made six catches for 61 yards. Sophomore
Zach D'Orazio has reeled in two of the team's five touchdown receptions while
fellow sophomore Andrew Pratt's 118 yards on three catches makes him the
team's most effective target.
Although the Zips frequently passed the ball, junior tailback Jawon Chisholm
still came up 47 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark in 2012. He showed solid
improvement in terms of efficiency as his yards per carry average rose from
4.4 to 5.3. Chisholm was bottled up by UCF in the opener, but picked up 87
yards against the Dukes.
Akron's defensive coordinator Chuck Amato has not been able to turn his unit
into one opposing offenses fear. The Zips allowed their FCS opponent to gain
498 yards of total offense and achieve 26 first downs in their last
appearance. The Dukes were moving the ball with ease on their final drive, but
ran out of time before they could take the lead one final time. Junior
linebacker Johnny Robinson has registered 15 total stops, including one for
loss through two games.
The Zips' defense will have their toughest assignment yet in Ann Arbor.
Michigan junior quarterback Devin Gardner's dual-threat ability is going to
make him extremely difficult to contain. Notre Dame had no answer for Gardner
as he went 21-of-33 passing for 294 yards and four touchdowns. He also gained
82 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to lead the team in rushing. Gardner
has accounted for at least two touchdowns in seven consecutive games dating
back to last season.
Jeremy Gallon was on the receiving end of three of Gardner's touchdown passes
last week. Gallon finished the game with a career-high 184 yards and eight
receptions, both of those totals were more than double that of any of his
teammates. Tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint was the second on the team in
receiving yards thanks to his one reception that went for 31 yards. Toussaint
also rushed 22 times for 71 yards.
"We'd still like to run the ball better from the tailback position, I think
that's always going to be a constant," said Hoke. "If we can control the line
of scrimmage and do that, then make sure we're targeting the perimeter the
Against the Fighting Irish's talented offensive unit, Michigan registered a
pair of interceptions and made two stops on fourth down. The Wolverines
allowed 410 yards of total offense to Notre Dame, but they were a lot less
generous in their season opening win over Central Michigan, which they held to
just 210 yards.
Raymon Taylor has registered a team-best 15 total tackles along with an
interception through the first two games. Blake Countess has made a strong
return from the knee injury that kept him out for the majority of the 2012
season. The redshirt sophomore made the first two interceptions of his career
to go along with six tackles in the win over Notre Dame. Countess started the
final six games of the 2011 season, including the Sugar Bowl victory over
"The main thing is that every week is important," said Michigan senior wideout
Drew Dileo. "Last week the night game against Notre Dame was important and
this week Akron at noon is important. Regardless of the team, the conference,
or anything like that, this week it's Akron."
The Sports Network