Akron vs South Carolina: South Carolina is less than 24 hours away from concluding its regular season slate of games as kickoff against Akron is set for noon on the SEC Alternate Channel. The Gamecocks (6-5) aren’t used to playing on this day as there has only been one SEC Championship game appearance in program history, and the Clemson contest typically ends the season. But with a makeup game scheduled against the Zips (4-7), the Gamecocks are trying to get one more win prior to bowl season.
According to the South Carolina game notes, the Akron football team was established in 1891 when the school was known as Buchtel College and later became the University of Akron in 1913. In 1926, the athletic teams were named the Zippers after rubber boots manufactured by the B.F. Goodrich Company, which was headquartered in Akron at the time. The name was shortened to “Zips” in 1950.
Zips head coach Terry Bowden has a 34-50 record in his seven seasons at the school. He has brought his team to two bowl games after winning just one game his first season with the team. He has previously been a head coach at Auburn, and has a 2-0 record all-time against the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks have won 32 of their last 35 non-conference home games. The only three losses have come to Clemson twice and The Citadel. South Carolina is 2-0 this season in home non-conference games with wins over Coastal Carolina and Chattanooga.
One final time at Williams-Brice stadium in 2018. South Carolina’s offense has been clicking over the last month with the most impressive performance coming last week. I expect that to continue on Saturday against Akron, with the running game getting more opportunities. Jake Bentley does not have to throw the ball 50 times to try to win this week.
On the other side of the ball numbers are not improving from a body standpoint. Jaycee Horn may be back, but it’s not certain. The Gamecocks are just going to have to make due with what they have. Akron’s offense has struggled scoring points at times this season. The Zips deserve respect given their early season win over Northwestern, but a turnover or two could put this game to bed early. FINAL: Carolina 45 – Akron 17
Hopefully, for Will Muschamp’s sake, his team hasn’t approached this week like your favorite South Carolina reporter (Editors note: Shut up, Hale.) who goes by the name of Hale McGranahan.
It’s not like I totally mailed it in. There were stories and message board posts this week with this byline. Yep, there were several nice recruiting updates and a little something about Jake Bentley, but that’s it. From TheBigSpur satellite office near downtown, the focus was on the future.
As you probably know by now, the Gamecocks’ coaches didn’t put 95 percent of their effort into future. They, you know, actually treated Akron like a worthy opponent. For yours truly, this week was treated like any other mid-major opponent, except it was much closer to the early signing period.
And, quite frankly, that’s more important than this game, and I don’t care that Akron beat Northwestern.
Listen, I’m not playing in this game Saturday. I’ll be there. Maybe a few fans will show up, too. But my focus won’t be on the Zips. No offense to Terry Bowden and the program from LeBron James’ hometown.
Hey, how cool would it be if LeBron decided he wanted to play college football? His presence would give Akron a better shot Saturday afternoon, right? At least it would be a few more butts in the seat. Recruits would love it, too. The Lakers play tonight at 10:30 and are off on Saturday. LeBron could squeeze in a few snaps at wide receiver, between the Mavs and Suns.
I’d rather have him in the box, defending against the run. Akron’s giving up 4.42 yards per carry this season, which is 74th in the country. The Zips also allow 198.09 yards per game. That’s 99th.
Assuming they all get some touches, Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams, Mon Denson, A.J. Turner and Deshaun Fenwick could all put up some gaudy numbers on Saturday. The Gamecocks’ offensive line will do plenty of road grading against this MAC defense. FINAL: South Carolina 40 – Akron 14
This is basically unchartered territory for South Carolina playing a game after Clemson. It’s a non-conference game against an opponent that can’t qualify to go to a bowl. The Gamecocks (6-5) have a lot to play for as the Gator Bowl or Belk Bowl is on the line. And a loss would mean likely a trip to Shreveport, a far less desirable location than either of the two aforementioned destinations.
But Akron doesn’t have anything to lose. This is their bowl game, and they’ll probably treat it like bowl week. They’ll come out trying to get one of the worst offenses in the country going with their dual threat quarterback, Kato Nelson. He just doesn’t have much of a running game or big-play receivers around him. The Gamecocks have struggled defensively, and don’t have many healthy bodies. The Zips haven’t been able to stay on the field offensively, but the Gamecocks have struggled to get off of the field. Which one gives?
Given the situation, I could see South Carolina coming out a bit flat, really on both sides of the football. I do think that the Gamecocks will produce enough offensively, and also have the opportunity to empty the bench. I wouldn’t expect quite as fluid and efficient offensive performance as we’ve seen in recent weeks. It’ll be good enough though. FINAL: Carolina 46 – Akron 12