It’s weekday MACtion time again, as Akron heads across the state of Ohio to take on Miami this Wednesday night (11/8/23). Get Akron vs. Miami odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is Miami -17.
Akron vs. Miami Prediction
Miami wasn’t one of the three teams to receive a vote from the MAC coaches in the poll to predict a conference champion, but it looks like they’re going to have a pretty good chance to shock them all and do just that. The RedHawks dropped a tough one to conference-topping Toledo, but it’s their only conference loss, and as the Rockets are in the opposite division, the two teams should get a rematch in the MAC Championship Game- as long as they both do their jobs.
That shouldn’t be the tallest of tasks for a Miami squad whose only loss outside of the Toledo game is to Miami (FL). They took down Big 12 squad Cincinnati in a nice non-league win, and have absolutely ripped through the rest of the non-Toledo MAC competition.
Meanwhile, Akron is coming off of a triumph of their own; they secured the Wagon Wheel trophy with a dramatic comeback win over rivals Kent State, thus eliminating themselves from the “race” to be crowned the country’s worst team. The Zips trailed 27-10 heading into the fourth quarter, but three consecutive touchdowns, with the winner coming with just 26 seconds left in the contest, were enough for them to eke out the home victory.
These teams are both defense-first, albeit for different reasons. Miami’s offense has been average nationally in terms of EPA, while their defense is top-60 by the same measure. Akron’s defense ranks in about the same area, though their offense has been an absolute mess since dynamic quarterback DJ Irons suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
We could play the under, but it’s probably not worth our while when Akron has absolutely no route to staying in this game. Even though their defense grades relatively well, they’ve given up some big numbers against MAC competition, like 41 points from Bowling Green and a big 55 courtesy of Northern Illinois.
As for the offense, they’ve only eclipsed the 14-point mark once since Irons went down, in the win over a completely inept Kent State team, probably the worst FBS squad in the country. Miami, on the other hand, has won by at least 13 in every MAC game except the loss to Toledo, and should have absolutely no issue dispatching one of the conference’s definitive cellar dwellers.
We also have to look at motivation levels in this one- Miami knows they need every single game to stay ahead of the rest of the division, while Akron is coming off of a season-defining win. It would be easy for this to be an emotional letdown for the Zips, while the RedHawks will be pushing their hardest for four quarters.
Akron vs. Miami Prediction: Miami -17
Akron vs. Miami Best Odds
Miami is a big home favorite with a 17-point spread, and a moneyline of -900. Akron is +600 to pull off the upset, and both sides of a scoring total of 43 are set at -110.
Akron vs. Miami Key Matchups
Akron’s quietly solid pass defense will look to limit a pretty efficient Miami air attack, while the Zips will have to find a way to move the ball on the ground against a good Miami run defense, as the air game has been a relative non-factor this season.
Miami Passing Offense vs. Akron Air Defense
Miami has been a pass-first offense all season, ranking a solid 64th in the country in EPA per play on passing snaps. Brett Gabbert has had another solid season as he’s tossed for 14 touchdowns and just five interceptions, only two of which have come since the start of MAC play. Gage Larvadain has been by far his top target, leading the team in catches, yards, and scores, while the offensive line has struggled a bit.
Akron’s pass defense has been shockingly effective, ranking 17th in the country with a stellar -0.17 EPA per play. They’ve done it with a solid balance between coverage and pass rushing, headlined by star corner duo Darrian Lewis and Devonte Golden-Nelson, while CJ Nunnally IV has been the leader up front with six sacks. If they can slow down Gabbert and the RedHawks air offense, they’ll be on their way to keeping this one close, or even threatening an upset.
Akron Ground Game vs. Miami Run Defense
Irons was a huge part of the Akron run game, but they’ve managed to stay pretty efficient with a more conventional running back based attack. Lorenzo Lingard has been the lead back and he’s done a pretty good job, averaging nearly five yards per carry. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much help from the offensive line, which ranks 127th in the country as per PFF’s run blocking grade; they’ll need to do much more than usual to establish themselves in the trenches against Miami.
Miami’s run defense ranks top-25 in PFF’s grading system, and 41st when it comes to EPA per play. They’re limiting opponents to just 3.6 yards per game, and if they can do that against Akron’s abysmal front five, they’ll be well on their way to a blowout; if the Zips go one-dimensional, with that dimension being the pass, they are in trouble. Linebacker Matt Salopek has been the run-stopping star for the RedHawks, with a PFF run defense grade of 85.6, but there’s contributors at all levels. Safety Corey Thomas has missed just one tackle in the run game compared to 16 he’s made, while edge rusher Brian Ugwu has averaged an impressive depth of tackle of just 1.9 yards.