Saturday September 16
7:30 pm Eastern Time
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Kentucky Wildcats host the Akron Zips in Lexington on Saturday. It will be the second all-time meeting between these two, with the Wildcats winning 47-10 in 2010.
Akron is coming off a close victory against Morgan State (24-21). Historically, it’s a terrible program, as it has only reached .500 twice since 2006, including a 2-10 record last season.
The Wildcats are off to a good start, with two early wins against interstate opponents. Consistency is key, however, as they began last season winning their first four before losing six of their last nine.
Akron comes into this game in a similar position to Week 3 last season. That is, 1-1 and facing a Power Five team.
The Zips lost to a downtrodden Temple team in Week 1, which is concerning.
So far, the Zips have no idea what they are doing under center. DJ Irons started the season, but was pulled midway through the Morgan State game for unknown reasons. Whether Irons returns or Jeff Undercuffler Jr. starts is anyone’s guess.
Regardless of who is under center, this offense is anemic. Zips are near the bottom of every category, from Hit Rate to Havoc to Explosiveness.
The passing game is also poor, although the Zips can occasionally create explosive plays. They rank 6th nationally in Explosiveness, but there’s barely any difference when they rank 101st in Success Rate.
I admit that I like their receivers. Daniel George, Jasaiah Gathings and Alex Adams are legitimate threats and all have 85+ yards this year. Even running back Lorenzo Lingard is second in receiving yards, making up for his lack of rushing yards.
Luckily, Akron’s defense carries the water.
Akron’s defense may struggle against the pass, but they have been incredible at stopping the run. He ranks 11th in rush success rate allowed and 23rd in rush explosiveness allowed.
I can’t wait to see how he does against Kentucky, which passes it on frequently and efficiently.
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There is a lot to love about this Wildcats team.
Senior quarterback Devin Leary had a solid career at NC State before transferring to Lexington this past offseason. Leary has recorded 540 passing yards, five touchdowns and two picks in two games wearing the blue and white, and it seems like he’s getting more comfortable with each passing play.
As we’ve already mentioned, the passing game is thriving. Kentucky ranks 38th in passing success rate and 36th in passing explosiveness.
Tayvion Robinson recorded a big game last week against Eastern Kentucky, racking up 136 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He and Dane Key are primed to be both vertical threats, giving Leary several deep weapons.
The run game isn’t overly powerful (90th in Rush Success Rate), but the run game can create explosive plays (10th in Rush Explosiveness). Ray Davis has been good as a bellboy, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
There is also a lot to like on the defensive front. Kentucky has greats like Trevin Wallace and D’Eryk Jackson. Wallace has been the star of this defense, with 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, three tackles for loss and 19 total tackles.
While the players are doing well, the metrics don’t favor the Wildcats much. They fight to create havoc or prevent explosiveness.
Ultimately, Kentucky’s defense gets the job done and ranks 45th in success rate allowed.
If this team can avoid a collapse similar to last season, I project this defense will improve as the season progresses.
Toggle the dropdown menus below to hide or show how Akron and Kentucky match up statistically:
Akron offense vs. Kentucky defense
|Yards of line||132||twenty|
Kentucky offense vs. Akron defense
|Yards of line||54||twenty-one|
Pace of play/Other
|Approach to PFF||106||113|
|SP+ Special Equipment||112||2|
|Seconds per play||29.8 (112)||29.0 (94)|
|Rush rate||45.7% (123)||38.4% (130)|
Akron vs. Kentucky
Bet selection and prediction
Kentucky is the top team and I loved what I saw in a small sample. Robinson looks like he will be a star and Wallace has been all over the field on defense.
Kentucky’s big playmakers are probably too much for Akron.
Akron’s quarterback situation is also a big issue. There is no word on what happened to Irons, or if he will be ready to go.
Not only that, Akron also has a horrible running game. If Kentucky waits one pitch at a time, it will be an easy pick for Big Blue.
I really think 25.5 is a very generous number. I don’t think Kentucky is a powerhouse program, but Akron is so bad compared to the Wildcats.
I’m betting Kentucky covers 25 and recommend purchasing it before the number inflates any further.
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