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Breakdown: Backups on both sides of ball should see ample time against Akron

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published September 12, 2013

The No. 11 Michigan football team is a 37-point favorite over Akron (1-1) after remaining unbeaten with a win over Notre Dame under the lights last weekend. The coaching staff has said that a letdown is unlikely because of the senior leadership that should allow the team to keep its focus despite facing a weaker opponent.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools, though the Wolverines are 32-1 all-time against teams currently in the Mid-American Conference. It will also be Michigan’s second and final meeting of the season against a team from a non-BCS conference.

Michigan pass offense vs. Akron pass defense

Through two games, the Zips are just outside of the bottom-10 FBS teams in passing yards allowed. Against FCS school James Madison, Akron allowed 310 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air; defense is clearly not the Zips’ strength.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines’ aerial attack picked apart a Notre Dame secondary that forced turnover after turnover in the two teams’ meeting last year. Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner looked far more comfortable than he did in Week 1 against Central Michigan, perhaps an indication that time is what it will take to limit his mistakes when outside the pocket.

Gardner and fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon pose a formidable duo that should be able to connect at will against a Zips secondary that has shown little ability to stop weaker teams.

Edge: Michigan

Michigan rush offense vs. Akron rush defense

Michigan fifth-year senior tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint took 22 of the 23 carries by a running back in the win over Notre Dame. Expect a healthy mix of backs to see action against the Zips.

In part because of the still-developing interior offensive line, Toussaint didn’t have the holes to run through that he would’ve liked, though he still accumulated 71 yards. Freshmen Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith should see their workloads increase against a Zips team that allowed 3.7 yards per carry against James Madison last week.

This feels like the type of game where the offensive line can continue to learn from game experience with a lot of rushes with ample success.

Edge: Michigan

Akron pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense

The Zips’ offense is led, for the most part, by quarterback Kyle Pohl. Nick Hirschman, a transfer out of Colorado, also takes snaps at quarterback.

Michigan’s secondary is coming off a huge game with an inspired performance from redshirt sophomore cornerback Blake Countess, who secured his first and second career interceptions against the Fighting Irish. The pass defense should have a much easier time against Akron than against Notre Dame’s talented receiving corps, even if the pressure from the defensive line hasn’t yet met Brady Hoke’s standards.

Edge: Michigan

Central Michigan rush offense vs. Michigan rush defense

Jawon Chisholm has emerged as the leading rusher out of the Akron backfield. A spread offense limits the numbers of carries he actually gets, though.

Michigan didn’t allow many rushing yards (96) against Notre Dame, but the Wolverines also didn’t have the ball pounded down their throats repeatedly. The Fighting Irish mostly stuck with the pass, and the Zips should too.

Edge: Michigan

Special teams

Akron has yet to attempt a field goal this season, and redshirt senior kicker Brendan Gibbons continues to be automatic for the Wolverines.

Sophomore return man Dennis Norfleet has struggled to catch balls cleanly but is a constant threat to break one.

Edge: Michigan

Intangibles

If Michigan is going to have a letdown game this season, this probably isn’t it. The Zips are likely the worst team on the schedule.

This one will get out of hand quickly and should have the Michigan second-stringers in by around halftime.

FINAL SCORE: Michigan 52, Akron 10


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