Written by: D.J. Johnson
Looking over the 2012 Akron Zips football schedule, it is hard to see a difference between Terry Bowden’s one-win team and Rob Ianello’s one-win team from last year.
The 10 losses and one victory over an FCS school look eerily similar, but heading into the Zips’ final game of the season on Tuesday night, first-year head coach Bowden sees his team differently.
“I know the record hasn’t changed from last year, but I do believe these players have changed everything about the program,” Bowden said.
The Zips (1-10, 0-7 MAC) may have a tough time changing their number in the win column, as host Toledo (8-3, 5-2 MAC) cannot afford a slip-up heading into bowl season.
Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses.
For Akron, it was a 22-14 loss to the Massachusetts Minutemen. Five turnovers plagued the Zips.
The Toledo Rockets dropped their second consecutive game after eight straight wins. Their four turnovers led to a 31-24 loss at Northern Illinois.
“What better way to end the season than on national television against a top program,” Bowden said.
The upset bid will largely lie in the hands of Zips quarterback Dalton Williams. Playing from behind for most of the season, the fifth-year senior has thrown the ball over 47 times per game and is second in the nation in throws.
Despite just one touchdown pass and four interceptions against Massachusetts, Williams has thrown 25 touchdowns to 16 interceptions on the year.
Jawon Chisholm will carry the load in the backfield and is looking to eclipse last season’s 961 total rushing yards. The sophomore currently sits at 906 yards, surpassing 100 yards in five of the last six games.
Chisholm could become Akron’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Dennis Kennedy in 2008.
The Toledo offense will undoubtedly be led by their 1,000-yard running back, David Fluellen.
His 1,460 yards on the ground ranks fourth in the nation, and he currently averages almost six yards per carry.
The Zips will have to find a way to stop Fluellen and the high-scoring Toledo offense (32.7 points per game).
“We are excited about this,” Bowden said. “Anything could happen.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday night and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The regular season finale marks the first time the two teams have played since 2008, when the Rockets won 47-30.