Akron vs. Michigan: Key Matchups to Watch Between Zips and Wolverines

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Derrick Green (27) rushes with the ball in the third quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

While Michigan earning a victory over Akron in their college football matchup on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., is perceived as a mere formality, they'll still play the game.

Before penciling in a win for the Wolverines, we might as well analyze the game for the fun of it. Don't let the Wolverines' name fool you. Unlike their comic book counterpart, they're not indestructible.

Despite defeating No. 14-ranked Notre Dame last weekend, Michigan showed some blemishes, allowing 410 total yards and 30 points to the Fighting Irish. Akron is no Notre Dame, but the Mid-America entry scored 35 points in its last bout to top James Madison.

OK, fine, Michigan is almost certainly going to improve to 3-0 and make a claim for a Top 10 ranking in next week's polls. The result seems predictable, but that doesn't mean we can't examine the process.

Two battles hold the key to this game. One offers a glimmer of hope for Akron to give Michigan a run for its money. The other is likely to leave the Zips stuck in their tracks.


When: Saturday, Sept. 14 at noon ET 

Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Television: BTN 


WR Andrew Pratt vs. Michigan's Secondary

Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees exposed some cracks in Michigan's armor, netting 314 passing yards and two touchdowns for the game on Saturday night. Earlier in the day, Andrew Pratt led Akron to victory with a 68-yard touchdown grab.

Pratt, a sophomore, only has 13 career receptions, but he demonstrated some big-play upside that Akron needs to weaken Michigan's defense. Pratt will need to pull a few more big plays out of his sleeve on Saturday.

His big play last weekend lifted Pratt to his first career 100-yard receiving game, but the Zips are counting on it not being his last. Averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season, expect Akron to throw often in the spread formation. 

For Michigan, Blake Countess must continue to make big plays in the secondary. The junior salvaged Michigan's lackluster defense against Notre Dame with two interceptions.

Akron needs a massive undertaking in the passing game to hold its ground against Michigan.


RB Derrick Green vs. Akron's Rush Defense

Michigan freshman Derrick Green was afforded only one carry against Notre Dame, but expect him to see a bigger piece of the pie versus Akron.

The 220-pound back showed some promise in Michigan's opener against Central Michigan, gaining 58 yards on 11 carries. He took a 30-yard run to the house in the Wolverines' 59-9 clobbering over the Chippewas.

Brady Hoke didn't trust the newcomer in a close contest against a fellow nationally ranked foe, but Green will get a chance to excel if Michigan can secure an early advantage.

Senior Fitzgerald Toussaint holds the edge in experience and clearly touts a cooler name, but he had 22 carries against the Fighting Irish and produced just 71 yards. That won't exactly establish him as the clear-cut No. 1 back, especially after averaging four yards per carry last season.

Michigan Live's Nick Baumgardner reported that Hoke wants to get Green more involved this weekend, but Hoke is still much more comfortable with Toussaint in the backfield. Green needs to capitalize on his chance if he wants to factor into Michigan's plans this season. Look for him to sway Hoke's mind with a strong outing.