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NCAA Football Game Preview: Akron at Western Michigan – 11/9

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Game: Akron Zips at Western Michigan Broncos  

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET 

Odds: Zips +26, Broncos -26 

Total: 62 

It’s still MAC-tion! Akron might be 2-7, but the Zips have been improving and Western Michigan appears to be struggling after starting their 2021 season 4-1. The Broncos have lost two straight to Toledo and rival Central Michigan last week. The big issue is a defense that has given up 31 points or more in each of the past four games.  

Western Michigan lost to Michigan 47-14 to begin the 2021 season and then ripped off four straight wins, including a huge victory over Power 5 Pittsburgh (44-41), a team now ranked No. 25 in the AP Top 25. Since that 4-1 start, the Broncos have just one win, a 64-31 shootout victory over Kent State. WMU has given up 45 points to Ball State, the 31 to Kent State, 34 to Toledo, and 42 to Central Michigan over their last four games.  

Akron is by no means of an offensive powerhouse. The Zips only average 20.4 points per game and have only topped 30 points twice this season. One of those was in a 35-14 win over FCS Bryant. The Zips have been getting progressively better with the insertion of freshman Zach Gibson into the lineup at quarterback. Gibson has thrown at least two touchdown passes in three of Akron’s last four games. Plus, he has yet to throw an interception. That has helped the Zips stay in three of their past four games. 

The Zips were blown out by Buffalo 45-10, but kept games against Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Ball State close enough to cover the spread in all three. That gives Akron a 3-1 ATS record in their last four games. All four spreads were double-digits as is tonight’s which makes the Zips a 26-point underdog. 

WMU QB Kaleb Eleby leads a solid Broncos offense with 2,253 yards passing and 13 touchdowns. The running game features both Sean Tyler (690 yards, 6 TDs) and La’Darius Jefferson (581 yards, 10 TDs). The problem for Western Michigan in its past four games has been turnovers. The Broncos have committed nine turnovers in those four games. Not surprisingly, WMU scored just 20 points against Ball State and 15 in a loss to Toledo.  

Akron has only won three games in its last 20. In those 20 games, the Zips are 7-13 ATS. Western Michigan has had a good run under head coach Tim Lester. The Broncos play well at home where they have won 11 of their last 14 at Waldo Stadium. What comes as sort of a shock is that Western Michigan is just 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight MAC games.  

The Broncos hold a 7-3 advantage over Akron in the last ten games played between the two schools. Last year, Western Michigan was a 20.5-points favorite and won big 58-13. The Over has hit in four of the last six games in this series. Akron has been trending Under with five of their last seven games going Under the posted total.