2023 MAC Football Betting Preview: Can Akron contend in 2023?

In year one of the Joe Moorhead era at Akron, the team competed but couldn't turn it into wins, how about in year two?
Sep 17, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Akron Zips quarterback DJ Irons (0) during the second half
Sep 17, 2022; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Akron Zips quarterback DJ Irons (0) during the second half / Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Akron has been in the basement of the MAC for the last several years, but may be primed to step out of it in 2023, the second year under head coach Joe Moorhead.

Hired from Oregon as the offensive coordinator, Moorhead put together a formidable offense that gives the team a runway to success in 2023. Can the team outpace a team in the middle of the MAC like Buffalo?

Assessing a win total over and under we are eyeing in 2023?

Akron OVER 3.5 Wins (-132)

The Zips competed down the stretch of 2022, but couldn't turn in enough wins, going 1-6 in one-score games. While the defense was still one of the worst in the country, the offense trotted out a middle of the pack success rate across the country (63rd).

DJ Irons returns under center and will have All-MAC receiver Alex Adams, who hauled in nine touchdown catches to go with over 800 yards receiving. The offensive line was the anchor of this offense, allowing the second most sacks in the country, but does return three of five starters in hopes that continuity can pave way for growth.

The defense leaned on two underclassmen to hold up at cornerback, and it led to an explosive pass defense outside the top 100, but now has two seasoned veterans on hand in Tyson Durant and Darrian Lewis. The team may not have experience up front, but linebacker Bubba Arslanian returns at linebacker after posting 129 tackles last season, 10.5 of which were for loss.

I'm counting on the positive momentum from last season, five of the team's last six losses came by one score or fewer, and with another year of Moorhead at the helm can turn a few of those into wins.

The Zips get Morgan State and fellow MAC bottom dweller Kent State at home, hopefully netting two wins. Heading into the season, the team is projected underdogs in conference play to every other team outside of the Golden Flashes, but the team avoids Toledo.

I'll buy some upside in the always random MAC.

Buffalo UNDER 6.5 Wins (-130)

The Bulls had a fascinating 2022 campaign. An 0-4 start included a last second loss to Holy Cross before the team got off to a hot start in MAC play, winning five straight, before dropping three of four down the stretch to miss the title game.

The Bulls return about half of its production on defense and hand the reigns over to DJ Magnus on offense, who has never called plays before.

This was a middling offense last season that was 66th in EPA/Pass and 70th in terms of EPA/Run, but will hope that the return of veteran quarterback Cole Snyder and running back Mike Washington and Ron Cook (combined for over 1,200 yards) can ease the transition.

The team is bringing up a ton of new faces on defense, and will also lean on a first time play caller in Robert Wright, who was a defensive analyst at Duke.

Not to mention, the schedule gives little favors with the team drawing both Kent State and Akron, two likely wins, on the road. Outside of a home game against FCS Fordham and home for Bowling Green, the team's remaining eight games will have the Bulls either underdogs or favored by less than a score.

The team won six games in the regular season last year and I don't expect the team to win more given the play calling turnover and schedule.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.