I've not heard from a Michigan fan yet who wasn't surprised at how Akron came so close to pulling the upset against Michigan. Most had Michigan winning (including me) in a ridiculously easy game where lots of backup players would get a chance to play. Obviously, such was not the case. Most have focused on how unprepared Michigan seemed and that while Akron played a spirited game, no way should they have been anywhere close to Michigan, let alone nearly winning the game. But perhaps we were too hasty in portraying Akron as just a push over with no chance of winning. Maybe, just maybe, Akron has some decent players, ones that are better than a MAC doormat team.
The coaching is there, without question. Terry Bowden and Chuck Amato know how to win at the top of the college ranks and have dozens of years of experience. A lot of the impression of Akron was based on their past. How many years has it been since they've won a road game? But this is only Bowden's second year there. He is not responsible for how bad the team was 3-5 years ago. And he is doing something that Bill Snyder perfected at Kansas State: building a team with transfer players.
It's common form for coaches to talk up their opposition before a game, even if it's just to be polite. But maybe Brady Hoke was onto something when he sang Akron's praises:
“When you look at Akron, I look at a team that has 22 transfers and that is coached very well,” Hoke said. “Thirteen of those transfers are playing significant snaps, (including) two offensive linemen, one transferred from Florida State and one from Pittsburgh. Those are pretty good programs. They have a couple of guys who have transferred from Ohio (State).
A quick look at their roster shows that in addition to transfers from FSU, PItt, and OSU, they also have transfers from Wisconsin, BYU, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Colorado, Colorado State, and several community colleges. They have a lot of new, experienced players this year with the talent level for success.
Yes they did lose decisively in their first game this year to UCF (who just beat Penn State) and had to struggle to beat James Madison, but they definitely seem to be a team on the rise. I'm not claiming they are going to win the MAC this year, but they probably are a much better team than most of us gave them credit for.