2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Temple at Akron
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Temple (1-0) at Akron (0-1) Sept. 10, 7:00
Here's The Deal … Over the recent history of Temple football, the program that hasn't started to produce on the field until a few years ago hasn't exactly dominated anyone. However, the Owls have owned Akron since joining the MAC, winning the four games in the series with blowouts in the last three, including a 30-0 win last year. New head coach Steve Addazio has his team looking in midseason form after thumping a good Villanova team 42-7, and while the big conference games are well down the road, this is a key week to keep the momentum going before dealing with Penn State and Maryland.
The Zips had their paycheck game last week, getting stomped by Ohio State 42-0, and with a trip to Cincinnati up next, they have to come up with win of risk an 0-3 start before things ease up with VMI and Eastern Michigan. Even in the blowout loss to the Buckeyes, Akron had some decent moments and really and truly did look better than last year – in relative terms. The offense only gained 90 yards, but the special teams were fine and the defense wasn't miserable against a jacked up team looking to make a big early splash. This game is huge for second year head man Rob Ianello, whose inaugural season was a total mess. As good as Temple is, it's not okay to get blown out at home by a fellow MAC team. The Zips have to show that strides really have been made since last year.
Why Temple Might Win: Pound the rock. The Akron linebacking corps should be its strength, and Brian Wagner and company will come up with a ton of tackles, and that's the problem; Temple won't have any problems getting to the second level. Bernard Pierce and the Temple offense ripped up Villanova, but the passing game worked, too, balancing things out with 235 yards through the air to go along with the 240 on the ground. Akron will be fine against most MAC teams if it's able to focus on just one thing, but teams that can do a little of everything will be a huge problem. Under Addazio, the Owls look like they can finally throw the ball.
Why Akron Might Win: Temple's defensive back seven is fine, but the secondary could be a bit suspect. It was a concern coming into the season as a possible weak spot, even though it gets back corner Kee-ayre Griffin after being suspended for a game for violating team rules. Akron has to show it can push the ball down the field a bit, but it didn't get any time to work against Ohio State's pass rush. Temple can get into the backfield, too, but the short to midrange passes will be there that weren't last week. Quarterback Clayton Moore won't have to try to do it all alone this week, while defensively, Brian Wagner, who came up with a 15-tackle game, should be a major difference maker against the Temple ground attack.
What To Watch Out For: Moore, a transfer from Ole Miss who went the JUCO route to Akron, got the call against Ohio State, and he did what he could leading the team with 32 rushing yards while struggling through the air completing 6-of-16 passes for 54 yards with a pick. He's not big at 6-1 and 210 pounds, but he has a live arm and is a terrific runner. He has all the tools to run the offense around, but he could use more time to work and could use some help from the backs. More players will get involved this week.
While Pierce controlled the Villanova game with 147 yards and three touchdowns, more importantly, quarterback Mike Gerardi showed that the Owls have a passing attack completing 14-of-20 throws for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He worked well with Evan Rodriguez and Deon Miller to mix up the passing game, and the more that works, the more Pierce should be able to rumble at will.
What Will Happen: Akron won't have much more luck than it did against Ohio State. This won't be another shutout blowout, but Temple will control the game from the start and Akron will have to play catch-up. Akron can't play catch-up; it's not equipped to do it. Pierce will run for another 100-yard day and Gerardi won't get touched. With time, he'll carve up the Akron secondary.
CFN Prediction: Temple 38 … Akron 13
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Temple -14.5 O/U: 45.5
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