BOWLING GREEN It is early, but J.D. Brookhart might be right.
In late July, before anyone knew that its quarterback was stabilized and its new receiver would be excellent, Akron was picked to finish last in the Mid-American Conference East. Brookhart, the fifth-year coach of the Zips, wasn't sure where his team should appear in the pecking order, 'but we're not the worst.'
Again, it's early. But in terms of the standings, Akron is the best tied for it anyway. Winners of just four games in 2007, Akron already could match that total with a victory today against preseason East favorite Bowling Green State University.
Akron (3-3, 1-1) is tied with Buffalo atop the East, which appears to be vastly inferior and more wide open than the West. The Zips scratched out a 30-27 double-overtime win at Kent State last Saturday.
'You never know, but you would hope we'd take the positives from that game and expand on them,' Brookhart said.
The Falcons (2-3, 0-1) are coming off an emotional game of their own, and it will be interesting to see how they react after a much criticized 24-21 homecoming loss to Eastern Michigan. At the midway point of the season, BG may already be in need of a win to stay afloat in the East. Coach Gregg Brandon was still reeling from Saturday's loss when he met with reporters Monday. His players were made unavailable to the media because of midterms but the decision may have also been a ploy to protect the team from further scrutiny following Saturday's loss.
'If we can beat Akron and get back on track, we're back in the hunt,' Brandon said.
A win won't be as simple as perhaps it appeared to be in July and that can largely be attributed to the guy at the controls. Zips junior Chris Jacquemain has progressed into a feared quarterback in the MAC after splitting duties much of last year with Carlton Jackson. It was Jackson who got the start in last year's 44-20 loss to BG after Jacquemain had been suspended.
Jacquemain is averaging nearly 243 yards per game and is completing 59 percent of his attempts. His 10 touchdown passes aren't so impressive when matched against nine interceptions, but Brookhart said a few of those miscues were the fault of a receiver.
'He's gotten better in their system,' Brandon said. 'He's another guy that if he gets comfortable back there he will make plays and we can't allow that.'
Jacquemain made a huge play against Kent on fourth-and-11 with 1:35 remaining in the game when he connected with Deryn Bowser for a 24-yard touchdown.
Bowser, a top junior college recruit from California, caught the ball over a defender
before falling to the ground and dropping the football. The play was reviewed and it was determined that Bowser had control of the ball before losing it.
'Spectacular would be the first thing I'd say,' Brookhart said. 'It was a spectacular catch.'
Bowser, who was being courted by many high profile programs before choosing Akron close to signing day, has 35 catches for 443 yards.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org