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First Look: Get to Know the Akron Zips Before They Play the Buckeyes

Here are some of the notable players and recent success from the Akron program.

The Akron Zips travel south this Saturday to play the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road in Columbus.

The Zips record stands at 1-2 after losses to the Auburn Tigers and Temple Owls, but they're coming off a win last weekend against the Bryant University Bulldogs.

Notable names for Akron include receiver Michael Mathison, linebacker Bubba Arslanian, and quarterback DJ Irons.

Mathison leads the Zips in receiving yards with 230, earned after only 18 receptions (an average of 12.8 yards per reception). His touchdown against Bryant on Saturday is one of Akron’s six receiving touchdowns this season. The longest reception of the year for Mathison was a 38 yard bomb from DJ Irons in the first quarter of the game against Bryant.

Arslanian is the team leader in total tackles with 37, a solid 17 tackles ahead of second place. His best game for both solo tackles as well as assists came in the loss to Temple, in which he earned eight and nine respectively. Last Saturday, Arslanian stuffed Bryant quarterback Zevi Eckhaus twice.

Irons posted an impressive 296 yards against the Bulldogs, his most in a single game this season. The sophomore quarterback leads the team with 534 total passing yards through Akron’s three games. Irons also leads the team in total rushing yards, with 165 yards. His contributions on the ground have resulted in two rushing touchdowns.

Irons played the entire game against Bryant, after he previously shared time with Keto Nelson. Nelson is currently inactive with a foot injury.

Akron still has a major weakness despite the aforementioned impressive individual numbers: its defense.

The Zips defense has been almost completely ineffective against opposing offenses. Akron’s defense gave up 1,045 yards over the first two games this season, allowing the most (613 yards) to the Temple Owls in Week 2. That said, the Zips allowed just 146 yards against Bryant and took a step in the right direction.

This is a concern that needs immediate correction if Akron is to have any chance at upsetting the Buckeyes. Ohio State is coming off a major offensive performance from running back TreVeyon Henderson, who posted a program freshman rushing record 277 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries in the Buckeyes’ win over Tulsa.

The Akron Zips have been playing this season without Teon Dollard, while on the subject of star running backs. Last season, Dollard averaged 111 yards per game and accounted for four touchdowns in Akron’s win over Kent State.

Dollard was suspended over the summer after he was arrested on a felony weapons charge. He was dismissed from the team officially in late August.

The Akron Zips football team is coached by Tom Arth, who last coached for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga during the 2017-18 season. Arth was hired by Akron from UTC in 2019, making this his third year with the Zips. He also spent several seasons in his native Cleveland at John Carroll University, where he was the Division III National Coach of the Year in 2016 and led the Blue Streaks to the national semifinals.

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Arth has a record of 2-19 since taking over the Zips program, and went winless (0-12) in his first year with the Zips.

Akron has an extremely slim 0.2% chance of besting the Buckeyes this weekend and are projected to lose by 49 points, according to SISportsBook.

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