Bloomington, Ind. – If there's a proverbial "trap" game on IU's schedule, it might just be Saturday's match-up with the Zips.
This weekend's contest is sandwiched in between a couple of big games in the Hoosiers' quest for a bowl berth. Last week's trip to Kalamazoo was expected to be the potential slip up during IU's pre-Big Ten slate. Next week's home game against Illinois, meanwhile, was seen by many as the game that could result in the Hoosiers' first 4-0 start in 17 years.
Stuck in the middle of those benchmark games is Saturday's home contest against Akron, a team that went 5-7 a year ago and has scored only one offensive touchdown while getting off to a 1-1 start this season.
While Akron hasn't been very good offensively, they've been sold defensively. They forced five turnovers in last week's 20-2 loss at Ohio State, and surrendered only 242 total yards in a week one win over Army. Coach J.D. Brookhart's squad uses the same 3-5-3 "stack" defense that Indiana State did two weeks ago, so Indiana does have some familiarity with what the Zips will try to do.
"They have a good defensive football team," said IU Coach Bill Lynch. "They've got the big guys up front that you really need in that defense…and they've got five guys that are really active…If you have athletic guys at linebacker, they type of stunting and things they can do can give you problems."
The Hoosiers need to avoid compounding their problems by looking past the Zips to next weekend's Big Ten opener against Illinois. All of Lynch's players are saying the right things as they wrap up preparation for Akron.
"You have to win all your non-conference games to go to a bowl," said defensive tackle Joe Kremer. "We're taking it one game at a time. We're totally focused on Akron. We want to get this game won and then move on from there."
Fellow defensive lineman Ryan Marando echoed Kremer's thoughts.
"Getting this win and being 3-0 would be a huge momentum booster coming in (to the Big Ten)," Marando said. "Akron is a good team, so we'll need to play well and play them tough. Getting to 3-0 would be huge for us."
So will the Hoosiers get it done? HoosierNation.com believes they will. So long as they can avoid the sort of barrage of turnovers that Ohio State had a week ago and big plays on special teams, they should be headed to their fifth 3-0 start in the last 20 years.
HoosierNation.com Prediction: Indiana 27, Akron 14.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players To Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
AKRON: One Day and Counting
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