Akron hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2015 and hasn’t won a MAC Championship since 2005.
The Zips are hopeful the long-term direction of the program will change under head coach Joe Moorhead going into his second season with Akron. But in the short term, the Zips will need to make several improvements.
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Akron Football’s MAC Title Odds
Akron’s odds to win the MAC are +3500, via BetMGM.
Akron Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Akron’s win total Over/Under is 4, with Under 4 at +115 and Over 4 at -135.
Akron Football’s Schedule
9/2 at Temple
9/9 vs Morgan State
9/16 at Kentucky
9/23 at Indiana
9/30 vs Buffalo
10/7 vs Northern Illinois
10/14 at Central Michigan
10/21 at Bowling Green
11/1 vs Kent State
11/8 at Miami (Ohio)
11/14 at Eastern Michigan
11/24 vs Ohio
Bold indicates MAC contests.
Key Akron Football Returners
2022 All-MAC 1st Team
WR Alex Adams
QB D.J. Irons
Alex Adams-D.J. Irons Combo To Fuel Akron Offense
For whatever other flaws the roster may have, Akron is strong at two of the most important positions in football.
D.J. Irons is one of the better quarterbacks in the conference, throwing for 2,609 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions on a 67% completion rate last season. He rushed for 314 yards and four touchdowns as well.
Irons, a senior in 2023, should only make more strides going into his second full season as Akron’s starter. His rushing abilities also give the Zips’ offense an important extra dimension.
Akron junior Alex Adams was also a top-three wide receiver in the MAC last season. The former LSU transfer was top six in the league for touchdown receptions (11), receiving yards (850), and catches (63).
That combo gives Akron a sense of stability. The rest of the offense is in flux.
The Zips’ leading rusher in 2022, Cam Wiley, is gone and Irons was second on the team in rushing. They will have to figure out who will be their lead running back but do have a few options, including Florida transfer Lorenzo Lingard.
The offensive line does bring back some experienced players, like 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior offensive tackle Nate Williams. But the Zips will need to find the right combo up front if they want to improve on their offensive production. They were 10th in the MAC in points scored (21.8 per game), seventh in yards gained (372.9 per game), and last in rushing yards (89.6 per game) while also allowing the most sacks (56).
Nate Thompson Sets Tone For Akron Defense
The Zips don’t return any all-conference players on defense, but there are some bright spots on that side of the ball.
Former Akron linebacker Bubba Arslanian, who was third in the MAC and top 10 in the country with 132 tackles, decided to move on from the team this offseason. The team’s second-leading tackler, Nate Thompson, is back though.
Thompson, a redshirt senior defensive back, totaled 73 tackles and two tackles for loss in 2022. And seven of Akron’s top 10 tacklers from last year return for 2023.
The Zips lost defensive lineman Victor Jones, who led the team with 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, so they will need to find other ways to rush the passer and disrupt backfields. But they do return cornerback Tyson Durant, who paced Akron with three interceptions a year ago.
Overall, the Zips will need to make some significant strides in defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar’s second year with the team. They were ninth in the MAC in total defense (406.2 yards allowed per game) and last in scoring defense (33.5 points per game).
Akron Football Season Prediction
The Zips won’t win a conference title, and it’s unlikely they finish with four or more wins.
Whether the Zips can get to four victories might depend on their 2023 opener. They kick off the season at Temple, which isn’t expected to have a winning season either. If Akron can win that first contest and then take care of Morgan State at home while likely losing to Kentucky and Indiana, going into the MAC portion of the schedule at .500 wouldn’t be a terrible place to be.
The Zips would be capable of defeating Kent State at home, but other winnable matchups like Bowling Green and Central Michigan are on the road.
Akron may end up being fun to watch because of D.J. Irons and Alex Adams, but this team doesn’t appear to be ready for success in the immediate future.