2021 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Akron

If week 3 taught us anything, it is that this season there is no clear cut dominant team. Ohio State played a closer than expected game last week against Tulsa, and did not pull away until the 4th quarter to help make the final score a little more respectable. This week they host in state opponent Akron for a night game on BTN. The Buckeyes opened as a 53 point favorite, which has been slowly going down to now as a high 40’s spread for the margin of victory. Ryan Day admitted this week that the last game, Matt Barnes filled in as the defensive coordinator on the field, and Kerry Coombs was in the booth to have a birds eye view. There is a good chance Day will use this same strategy this week as he continues to try and find ways to improve the defense.

Ohio State fell one spot in both the Coaches and AP poll based on their performance, but have a chance to make some moves this weekend with a few of the ranked teams matchups. They are currently the third highest ranked Big Ten team, with Iowa and Penn State jumping ahead thanks to their 2 wins each against ranked opponents.

The Buckeyes will need to grow up, and fast, to keep their name in the discussion as one of the top for teams, and have 3 weeks before their bye week to fix some of those issues against opponents who they should easily defeat before taking on a tough 6 game stretch with Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan on the horizon. It all starts though this week with Akron.

Head Coach: Tom Arth (3rd Season)
2021 Record: 1-2
Location: Akron. OH
Conference: MAC

Ohio State Preview: The big news out of the Ohio State camp this week is that CJ Stroud will be sitting out this week due to his shoulder injury. Ryan Day though did say that Stroud could play in an emergency situation, but the door is now open for Kyle McCord and Jack Miller to play. This will be their first game with meaningful snaps since the Spring game. Based on evaluations of how both of them performed, Kyle McCord had a stronger showing than Miller and could get the start first, but we can anticipate both alternating for a series before Ryan Day settles on one. On the defensive side, Zach Harrison will be back this week after being out, and should help provide pressure on the quarterback.

This game became a little more interesting because of the potential for a quarterback controversy if either quarterback seems to perform better or makes the throws that CJ Stroud has had issues connecting with the receivers who have been able to ger separation in all of the games so far this season.

With Miyan Williams out last week, TreVeyon Henderson was able to take the title as the team’s leading rusher with 346 yards on 38 carries and 4 touchdowns. Master Teague did increase his season numbers as well with 91 yards on 20 carries.

Garrett Wilson overtook the leader of receiving yards and catches with 19 catches and 267 yards with 3 touchdowns. Chris Olave still has 243 yards on 16 catches and 2 touchdowns. Jaxon Smith-Njigba remains the third leading receiver with 11 catches for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Akron Preview: Akron comes into this game as one of the lowest rated teams in the country, with a 2-19 record under Tom Arth in his 3 seasons as head coach. They finished 2020 as 5th in the East in the MAC. They opened the season with a loss to Auburn and Temple, but won last week against FCS opponent Bryant 35-14. Like Ohio State though, they did not pull away until the 4th quarter.

DJ Irons is the teams leading passer with 534 yards for the season, along with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. He is completing 75 percent of his passes, and is a threat in the run game. He leads the team with 165 yards rushing on 31 carries, which 6 of those were sacks, and 2 touchdowns.

Jonzell Norris is the teams second leading rushing, but leading running back with 114 yards on 36 carries. Anthony Williams splits part of the caries too with 21 carried for 85 yards and a touchdown. The top two targets for the Zips are Michael Mathison and Konata Mumpfield. Mathison has 18 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown. Mumpfield has 11 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Buckeye Spotlight: Kyle McCord/Jack Miller. With Stroud sitting for this game, and only to be used in an emergency situation, we will get to see these two play for the first time since the Spring Game. If one or either is able to lead the offense similarly or better than Stroud was, we might have a QB controversy. 

Zip Spotlight: DJ Irons. The Akron QB leads the team in passing yards and rushing yards. If the OSU defense does not succesfully spy on Irons, he could make them pay, and the secondary has not been able to stop the pass all year. 

Water Cooler Stat of the Game:  7-1. The all time series for this game has Ohio State leading 7-1, with the most recent win in the 2011 game which was Luke Fickell’s first game as a head coach. Akron’s lone win against Ohio State was in 1894, and they won 12-6.

Prediction: The night game atmosphere should be fun for the players, but this is a mismatch game that Ohio State should win convincingly. I anticipate the defense to start to get some things fixed and build off of their progress with the new schemes from the Tulsa game. With a new QB, it will be interesting to see how the offense performs, but Olave and Wilson have been open all day against any opponent. All that the QB needs to do is find them, or just let TreVeyon Henderson do his thing.

Ohio State 56 – Akron 7

Photo Credit to The Lantern

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