Akron (4-5) at Buffalo (3-6) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: UB Stadium (29,013) — Buffalo, New York.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Akron 3-2, Buffalo 3-2. Away Record: Akron
1-3, Buffalo 0-4. Neutral Record: Akron 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record:
Akron 2-3, Buffalo 1-4. Series Record: Akron leads, 9-4.

GAME NOTES: After three straight losses, the Akron Zips will try to get their
season back on track as they take on the Buffalo Bulls in a Mid-American
Conference clash at UB Stadium Tuesday night.

Akron’s dreams of chasing a conference title have dwindled significantly after
three consecutive defeats to MAC opponents. The Zips were downed by Bowling
Green at home last Tuesday, 27-10, in the team’s second-to-last home game of
the 2014 season.

Buffalo knows the feeling all too well. After a solid 2013 campaign, the Bulls
have experienced some tough times this season, and have lost their last four
contests in a row. With no chance at earning the MAC title, Buffalo is just
trying to salvage a decent season.

Akron leads the all-time series with Buffalo, 9-4. The two teams began their
rivalry back in the 1999 season, but haven’t met on the field since the 2011
campaign.

After missing several games due to an injury, Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl
returned to action to take on Bowling Green last Tuesday, and it wasn’t the
type of return he was hoping for. The signal caller completed exactly half of
his whopping 62 pass attempts for 304 yards with three interceptions, as his
Zips trailed by only three points at halftime before the wheels came off the
cart in the second half.

Scoring has been a bit of an issue for Akron this season, which averages 21.4
ppg through nine games played. Even when Pohl has been healthy, he hasn’t been
the dominate offensive force the Zips would like him to be. In seven games
played, Pohl has passed for 1,593 yards and seven touchdowns against six
interceptions, which was doubled after last week. He’s still responsible for
much of Akron’s weekly offense, helping his Zips to pass for 262.9 ypg through
the air.

The ground attack for Akron has come up short as well. Conor Hundley leads the
team with 455 yards on 81 carries, adding three scores to his resume. Jawon
Chisholm has underperformed after starting the season as the feature back,
racking up 318 yards with a team-best four rushing touchdowns. As a unit,
Akron gains 384.4 total offensive ypg, which has fallen short of where the
Zips need to be to remain competitive in the tough Mid-American Conference.

On the defensive side of the ball, Akron has shown signs of serious promise,
though inconsistency has plagued the team throughout the year. In the team’s
last three losses, the Zips have allowed opponents to score at least 23 points
in each game, while the team’s offense has come up short. This season, Akron
has been surrendering 21 ppg and 363.6 offensive ypg – decent numbers. The
team has shown flashes of brilliance in holding teams like Pittsburgh and Penn
State to 10 and 21 points, respectively (although the team lost to Penn
State).

Linebackers Jatavis Brown, C.J. Mizell and Justin March are the top three
leaders in tackles, with Brown coming in on the top at 78 stops. Brown has
been the most active in the pass rush, having recorded 10 tackles for loss and
four sacks through nine games played, adding three forced fumbles to his stat
line. Defensive lineman Nordly Capi is tied with Brown for the team lead with
four sacks. The two of them will need to contain tough running back Anthone
Taylor and veteran quarterback Joe Licata for Buffalo.

What typically is a strong offense for Buffalo was completely stagnant in the
team’s 37-14 blowout loss to MAC rival Ohio last week. The Bulls didn’t get on
the scoreboard until late in the third quarter, when the Bobcats already had a
27-point lead. Licata, who was stellar last season, was sub-par against Ohio
in the contest, throwing for just 74 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

In nine games played, Licata has thrown for 2,199 yards and 21 touchdowns
against 10 interceptions – not bad numbers for the signal caller. But the
team’s struggles offensively in the last two games (14 points scored in each)
can’t be blamed squarely on the defense. The Bulls are averaging 28.8 ppg, a
respectable statistic. But that number has dropped considerably over the past
few weeks, and doesn’t appear to be getting any better.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing for the Buffalo offense has been the
essential disappearance of a running game. Tailback Anthone Taylor was once
near the top of the FBS standings in terms of rushing yards and rushing
touchdowns, but has fallen off the map in the past few weeks. Against Ohio, he
dashed for 37 yards on 17 carries. He should cross the 1,000-yard threshold
this weekend against Akron, needing just 12 yards.

The team’s defense has been a huge issue lately, surrendering at least 36
points in three of the team’s last four games (all losses). In fact, Buffalo
hasn’t given up fewer than 20 points in a contest since a Sept. 20 matchup
against FCS program Norfolk State. This season, opponents are scoring 33.6 ppg
against the Bulls, and are racking up 424 yards of offense per outing.

Linebacker Lee Skinner leads the team in tackles with 81 – 20 more than his
fellow defensive playmaker Adam Redden, who has 61 with a team-best 13 tackles
for loss and five sacks. The two linebackers are the core of the defense, but
have little help around them. Kyril Threats has the next-highest sack
statistic at three. What’s even more concerning is the lack of ability to take
the ball away. In nine games, the Bulls have registered just two
interceptions.

Buffalo has been solid at home this season, but has only played one game at UB
Stadium since the month of October started. Taking on an Akron team that has
struggled to get a decent offense going may be just what the team needs to get
back on track in the remaining three games of the schedule. Neither team is
playoff bound, so there’s nothing to lose.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 24, Akron 20