As bad as the competition has been during Indiana's non-conference schedule, winless Akron represents the Hoosiers' biggest test to date.
After facing a bad FCS team in week one (Towson) and a terrible FBS team that had dropped 22 straight in week two (Western Kentucky), just about any team would represent a step up in competition, and that's what Akron will be Saturday night.
Mind you, it will be an ever-so-slight step up. Akron may not have the nation's longest losing streak , but at 0-3 Coach Rob Ianello's team appears well on its way to its fifth consecutive losing season. Akron has been demolished by both of its BCS conference foes this year (Syracuse and Kentucky) by a combined score of 76-13, and stumbled in the game it was supposed to win, falling 38-37 to FCS foe Gardner Webb in overtime.
Despite Akron's struggles, IU Coach Bill Lynch sees more to the Zips what others might see on paper.
"I do think this week is a challenge," Lynch said. "Akron is a good football team, they just haven't won. I think that sometimes when you don't get to watch the tape and all you do is read the scores, you get a perception of exactly what a team is all about. But they're a good, solid football team and very well coached. They're starting over with a new staff and that's always a tough situation. Both sides of the ball, though, I like what they're doing."
Lynch is also aware of Indiana's recent struggles against Mid-America Conference teams, and that's something he'd like to see change Saturday night.
"We have not played real well against the MAC teams recently and I think our players understand that," Lynch said. "Two years ago, when Ball State and Central Michigan came in here (and won) and last year we had to force a fumble late in the fourth quarter against Western Michigan, so I have a lot of respect for the MAC schools. Every year they knock off a couple Big Ten teams and they have another opportunity this weekend."
Expect that opportunity, though, to come and go. Akron doesn't have the weapons on offense to expose an Indiana defense that has been vulnerable at times in each of the first two weeks. Defensively, the Zips have had little success stopping anyone thus far this season, and Indiana seemingly represents the best offensive team they've faced to date.
As Indiana readies for the start of Big Ten play, expect to its best effort to date. The Hoosiers figure to make every effort to get the running game going this weekend, so look for a big game from Darius Willis. IU's playmakers in the passing game, meanwhile, will be too much for Akron to deal with when Ben Chappell puts the ball in the air.
Hoosier Nation's Prediction: Indiana 41, Akron 10.
On Sunday – Five Numbers to Note
On Monday – Four Names to Know
On Tuesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Wednesday – Two Big Concerns
On Thursday – One Bold Prediction
AKRON: One Day and Counting
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