Louisiana (1-2) at Akron (1-2) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: InfoCision Stadium (30,000) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Louisiana 1-0, Akron 1-0. Away Record: Louisiana 0-2, Akron 0-2. Neutral Record: Louisiana 0-0, Akron 0-0. Conference Record: Louisiana 0-0, Akron 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The suddenly dangerous Akron Zips will conclude their non- conference slate when they host the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at InfoCision Stadium.
Akron nearly picked up the biggest win in program history last week as it fell, 28-24, to the Big Ten's Michigan Wolverines at The Big House. Coach Terry Bowden's squad drove down to the four-yard line with time winding down in regulation. Under heavy pressure, Kyle Pohl's pass to Zach D'Orazio as time expired fell incomplete to end the threat.
The Zips' strong showing came out of nowhere as they were unimpressive in their 38-7 loss at UCF to open up the campaign and just escaped their matchup with FCS opponent James Madison with a two-point win. Akron has still not defeated an FBS opponent under Bowden, who is now 2-13 in his second year at the school.
Louisiana notched its first win of the season and 500th in program history last week in record-setting fashion as the team defeated Nicholls, 70-7. In the process, the squad set the Cajun Field record for points, racked up 456 yards rushing and matched the program record with 10 touchdowns. Coach Mark Hudspeth's team is 1-2 with the losses coming in road tilts at Arkansas (34-14) and Kansas State (48-27).
This will be the first meeting between these school in history. Louisiana is 5-6 all-time against Mid-American Conference programs. Akron is 7-4-2 versus current members of the Sun Belt.
Louisiana's offensive standout in its win over the Colonels was freshman running back Elijah McGuire, who dashed for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Torrey Pierce rushed for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Alonzo Harris (75 yards), Montrel Carter (64 yards) and Terrance Broadway (42 yards) all found the end zone on the ground as well.
Broadway also had his most efficient game of the season as a passer, completing 10-of-13 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, hooking up with 10 different receivers. The junior signal caller has been held under 200 passing yards in all three games after surpassing the 300-yard through the air on four occasions in 2012. Jamal Robinson is leading the team in receiving with 141 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches.
The Ragin' Cajuns had no problem shutting Nicholls' offense down either. After setting career-highs in back-to-back games with 14 tackles at Arkansas and 15 at KSU, Justin Anderson led the team with six tackles in just over two quarters of action last week. He also returned an interception 58 yards for six points. Louisiana's defense has allowed an average of 488 yards of total offense and 41 ppg to its FBS foes.
The Cajuns' have their work cut out for them this week as they prepare for Pohl, who is the reigning MAC East Division Player of the Week after his career-high 311 yards with two TDs and two INTs on 25-of-49 efficiency. Rookie offensive coordinator A.J. Milwee did a great job of calling the plays at the Big House. Milwee is familiar with Mark Hudspeth's coaching style, having started at QB for him at North Alabama in 2008.
Akron's lead back is junior Jawon Chisholm, who came up 47 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark in 2012. He rushed a season-high 15 times against the Wolverines for 58 yards and now has 155 yards on the season.
The Zips are very deep at wide receiver with 12 different players having caught at least one pass through three games this year. D'Orazio paces the group with 11 receptions for 120 yards after he finished with six catches for 97 yards and score at Michigan. L.T. Smith also had a huge day with five receptions for 125 yards.
Akron's defense looked awful against JMU in week two as the Dukes racked up 498 yards of total offense and 26 first downs. The Zips set a new season-low with 415 yards allowed to Michigan. They also registered four takeaways. Justin March finished with two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. Malachi Freeman registered nine total tackles to bring his team-leading total to 20.
Louisiana is a much more established program at this point and has an array of offensive weapons that Akron will have trouble stopping. After last week, no one will be shocked if the Zips end their losing skid against FBS competition in 2013. A victory over one of top teams in the SBC would still be surprising. Only time will tell whether Akron's showing against the Big Ten powerhouse was a fluke or a sign of good things to come.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 38, Akron 28Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. (et)