So you hear it all of the time every single season. Trap games are out there, never overlook a single opponent no matter how bad or mismatched they look on paper.
Guess what Akron did tonight?
O.K., maybe the Zips are just regressing to the mean by following up a come-from-behind win against Ball State by getting absolutely embarrassed by Buffalo the week before their much bigger (on paper) matchup against Akron next week. But it’s equally likely that they looked at the schedule, saw 1-6 coming at them and said “ah, we got this.”
But, come at them it did. Prior to tonight, senior running back Jordan Johnson had played in 27 games for Buffalo. He had rushed for 70 or more yards only 10 times. So of course, tonight he rambled off 282 yards on 24 carries for a new school record. It also helped that quarterback Tyree Jackson and backup running back Johnathan Hawkins ran for 100 yards on 15 carries of their own.
I guess in reality it was a little of both. You don’t surrender 378 rushing yards to a team that was averaging only 139 per game without actually being a little bit low-key bad at run defense, and you just now finally got exposed. This of course brings everything, including whether or not Akron has any chance of beating either Toledo or Ohio the next two weeks.
Then again, Ohio beat Toledo, so who the hell knows anything about anything.
I think we’ve started to see Lance Leipold start to commit to Tyree Jackson as a quarterback who needs to lean on his running ability until the passing skills catch up. Jackson was 7-for-21 for 140 yards, so they won in spite of the passing game, but the Bulls are now 2-0 in games where Jackson scores multiple rushing touchdowns.
As for Akron, Thomas Woodson has not played this poorly since the road game at Wisconsin. At halftime, he was already 7-for-19 for 56 yards and an interception (plus a second one that came back on a defensive offsides). The offense had literally no momentum the entire first half, and a punt return touchdown was the only thing that kept the Zips in the game past halftime.
If this was Buffalo showing signs of life, then they could do big things next season. Tyree Jackson still has a very long way to go as a passer, but if he can get smarter about his running (as well as having that fit in the offense more smoothly, this could be a good thing. I’ll be even more shocked if they can repeat this performance on the road against Ohio or WMU, but this was a big positive for Leipold and his squad.
Akron now, asI mentioned, has to face Toledo at home and then Ohio at the end. They’re in a pickle now because they’ll need to win out to get the division, but honestly anything is possible in the MAC at this point.