Akron Zips’ fans had a smile on their face Saturday, and its been a long time coming.
The Zips (2-5, 1-3) beat the Miami Redhawks (0-7, 0-3) 24-17 to get their first FBS win since 2010, a streak of 28 consecutive games. Coach Terry Bowden, son of Florida State legend Bobby Bowden, helped Akron get its first MAC win in over 2 years, and only his third win overall in two seasons at the helm.
Akron fans hoped that bringing in Bowden would help make the Zips competitive. Yet so far, Bowden is only 3-17 in his first 20 games as head coach. The program has not fared much better over the past few seasons as well, compiling a 13-55 record since the start of the 2008 season. But after a close brush with Michigan this season and Saturday’s victory, fans must feel a lot better about the direction of the Zips.
Though Akron has struggled in pretty much every offensive and defensive category this season, the running game was a major problem in the last three games for the Zips. They averaged only 87 rushing yards per game during losses to Bowling Green, Ohio, and Northern Illinois. But on Saturday, junior running back Jawon Chisholm almost matched that total himself, running for 86 yards and three touchdowns against the Redhawks. However, Akron still have a lot of work to do to improve its 111th ranked rushing offense.
Unfortunately for the Zips, winning will not come as easy this Saturday as they take on Ball State, who is 7-1 on the season. Still, the signs of progress are starting to show this season for this long-suffering program.
Even though this story was written by a Northern Illinois fan (or at least I am assuming that is the case by his name on the website), I think the story is a great second-day story angle following Northern Illinois winning again this weekend. The Huskies crashed the BCS last year, but what will it take for them to do it again this year?
There are three main facets of the article I enjoy. First, I think he/she does a good job of mixing straight numbers in addition to analysis. The writer validates his/her projections through an explanation of the numbers, which leads to my second point. He/she explains the rules for a non-automatic conference team to make the BCS. This means the writer is catering to all audiences; even though a majority of the readers will probably already know the scenario, the writer still makes sure that anyone with an interest in the Huskies understands their chances. Thirdly, the article is very fresh and relevant with the first BCS standings being released this evening. Northern Illinois is currently 18th in the BCS standings, one back of Fresno State and two back of the minimum requirement to gain a non-AQ bid.
The story then serves as both a second-day story after Northern Illinois’ win on Saturday over Central Michigan, and also an advance of the release of the first BCS standings.
Northwestern football has long been in the scrapheap of the Big Ten, but a former Wildcat himself is bringing the program to new heights.
Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats lost this Saturday to Ohio State in arguably the biggest regular season game for the Wildcats in many years. Yet despite the loss, the media coverage of the game helped propel Northwestern into the national spotlight. None of this would have likely happened without Fitzgerald at the helm.
A former Northwestern linebacker, Fitzgerald played for the Wildcats in the 1995 Rose Bowl, the last time they played in a major bowl game. As head coach, he led the Wildcats to a victory in the Gator Bowl last winter, the first bowl victory in over 60 years. For a program that has only played in 11 bowl games in its over 100 year history, Fitzgerald’s accomplishments on the field are even more significant.
After a 10-3 record last season and a 4-0 start to the year, the national sports media has started to notice the positive trend going on in Evanston with the 19th-ranked Wildcats. College Gameday visiting the campus truly showed the growth in the program.
Despite his early success, Fitzgerald still has a lot to prove. The Wildcats are only 5-11 versus ranked teams during his tenure as head coach, and are 1-4 in bowl games. Plus, Northwestern has come up short in big games recently, notably the overtime loss to Michigan last season and the game last Saturday. But that isn’t stopping Fitzgerald from trying to achieve his ultimate goal: winning a national championship.
A Wildcat through and through, there is no better person to coach the team than Fitzgerald. If the program continues to win and be put on the national stage, Fitzgerald’s dream of bringing a national championship to Evanston might eventually come true.
Matt Johnson may have an unassuming name, but the Bowling Green quarterback has made a name for himself on the field.
Johnson, a sophomore, was named the MAC East Player of the Week for the second time this season after a great performance against Murray State. He was 19-22 for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ rout. On the season, Johnson has already thrown for 1000 yards and four touchdowns. With Johnson on the field, Bowling Green has become one of the favorites in the MAC East.
With how well Johnson has played, one may forget that the starting job wasn’t even his at the start of the season. Another Matt, fifth year senior Matt Schilz, was expected to win the starting job over the sophomore. Schilz did win the job, but lost it almost immediately. Schilz was pulled after throwing only 4 passes against Tulsa in the season opener. The stage was set for Johnson to succeed, and he has greatly exceeded expectations so far.
After Johnson replaced Schilz, John Wagner suggested that Johnson didn’t need to be more than a “game manager” because of the strength of the Falcons’ defense. The defense has only given up 19.5 points per game, and throwing out the 41-22 drubbing by Indiana, Bowling Green is only allowing 8 points per game. Johnson, however, has been better than just a game manager by being the best offensive player in the MAC East so far this season.
If Johnson continues to perform well, the Falcons are in position to compete to win their first MAC title since 1992. The success of Bowling Green likely rests on the “game manager” shoulders.