Akron Zips vs. Toledo Rockets
Date and Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Opening College Football Odds: Toledo -18.5
Akron vs. Toledo TV Coverage: ESPN
The Zips are in the MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2005, and outside of the fact that the MAC East was once again terrible this season, it's hard to point to any one given reason why Terry Bowden has gotten his team to this point.
The Akron defense is woeful, allowing 421.6 yards per game, and the offense is only good for 323.9 yards and 23.2 points per game.
Thomas Woodson has been suspended by the Zips for a violation of team rules, and though there have been several instances where Woodson has been thought to be coming back, it's clear that this team is living and dying with Kato Nelson under center the rest of the way. Nelson has been woeful statistically since he has taken over as the starter, but the team won crucial games against Ohio and Kent State to clinch the MAC East under his direction.
Had the Rockets not lost that game to Ohio back on November 8, we could have made a great case for them to still be in the discussion for the New Year's Six. Their only other loss came against Miami, a team that was the No. 2 team in America until losing to Pittsburgh on Black Friday.
The one thing you know about this team is that it's going to get points on the board. Take the shocking Ohio game away, and this was a team that averaged 524.5 yards and 41.3 points per game, numbers that would have been amongst the best in the nation.
Toledo was a rare club this year that featured a 3,000-yard passer (Logan Woodside), a 1,000-yard rusher (Terry Swanson) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Dionate Johnson), and it also had two other 500+ yard rushers (Shakif Seymond and Art Thompkins) and two 500+ yard receivers (Jon'Vea Johnson and Cody Thompson). Few teams in the land can boast that many weapons, and it's going to be up to the Zips to try to figure out how to slow all these men down.
The First Meeting
These two teams collided at the Glass Bowl two months ago, and the results were relatively predictable. Toledo races out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 48-21 triumph.
The Rockets marched 205 yards on their first four drives of the game, and only a Woodside interception kept them from scoring touchdowns on all four possessions. Toledo literally didn't have a single drive that covered fewer than 20 yards.
If the Zips can't get at least a couple three-and-outs in this game, we can expect to see a somewhat similar result in the MAC Championship Game.
Akron vs. Toledo Free Picks
There isn't any good reason to like Akron in this game. The Zips are overmatched offensively and defensively, and that's why they're 18.5-point underdogs at all of the top college football sportsbooks.
But let's remember that this is a goofy conference, and the strangest things happen sometimes. Getting this many points in a game like this is bizarre. Remember when this Akron team was +17 at Troy and lost by five, was +12.5 at Western Michigan and won by a point, was a three-point dog at Buffalo and won by a point and was a 14.5-point dog at home against Ohio and won the MAC East?
This is a team that just flat out knows how to win. We can't quantify it, and there's surely a degree of luck that will have to go into this, but the Zips have only been beaten once all season long in games decided by a single score. If this one comes down to the wire, we like Akron's chances of an upset.
College Football ATS Pick: Akron +18.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Akron 30, Toledo 27