When Massachusetts visits Akron in a Mid-American Conference matchup, the Zips are 7-point favorites on NCAA football odds. Find out what our recommended betting strategy is for this Tuesday game.
Who Starts at QB for UMass?
The big question surrounding this game is to UMass starting quarterback Blake Frohnapfel. The senior from Virginia is having a very good season, completing 241 of 437 passes for 3,345 yards (fourth in the nation) with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Minutemen (3-7) beat Ball State 24-10 last Wednesday behind 424 yards passing from Frohnapfel, his second straight 400-yard game. However, he also suffered a bone bruise in the game, had to leave it late and is questionable for this one. If he can't start, then redshirt freshman Austin Whipple will make his first collegiate start. He is the youngest son of UMass head coach Mark Whipple, who led the Minutemen to the I-AA national title in 1998 in his first season as coach. He left UMass in 2003 and this is his first year back. This is only UMass' third season as an FBS program. Whipple replaced Charley Molnar, who was fired last December after going 2-22 in his two seasons.
Before closing out the win over Ball State, Austin Whipple, a transfer from Penn State, had made two appearances this season against Boston College and Kent State. He still hasn't attempted a pass. Expect a more conservative game plan if Whipple is under center. He does have one of the nation's leading receivers in junior Tajae Sharpe, who has caught 76 passes for 1,204 yards and five scores. Sharpe had a school-record 13 catches for 239 yards in the win over Ball State, his third game with 13 grabs this season. Sharpe has a shot to break Jimmy Moore's single-season school records for both receptions (92) and yardage (1,494) set in 1998.
UMass opened the season with six straight losses at sportsbooks, including to Power 5 teams Boston College, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Penn State, but has won three of its past four overall. However, there will be no bowl game for the Minutemen.
Zips Look to End Skid
Akron is coached by former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, and he inherited quite a mess at Akron. The Zips were 1-11 in his first season but improved to 5-7 last year, more wins than the previous three seasons combined. The Zips (4-6) still have a shot at finishing the season at .500 and perhaps getting a bowl invite, which no Akron team has gotten since 2005. However, the Zips enter on a four-game losing streak. The first defeat was a close one at Ohio but it has gotten ugly since with a 14-point loss at Ball State, a 17-point home defeat to Bowling Green and then a 55-24 blowout last Tuesday at Buffalo. Akron was gashed for 310 yards rushing by Buffalo.
Keep in mind when placing this College Football pick that because this is Akron's final home game of the season it's Senior Night. The Zips are not a good offensive team. They rank 112th nationally in averaging 116.2 yards rushing and 107th in points at 21.7 per game. Bowden is using two quarterbacks. Junior Kyle Pohl is 165 of 301 for 1,721 yards and seven touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Thomas Woodson is 76 of 143 for 806 yards and five touchdowns.
UMass and Akron will meet for the third time with the road team winning the previous two seasons. Last season in Amherst, Akron won 14-13. Pohl hit Jawon Chisholm on a 17-yard scoring pass with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter for the winning points. After the go-ahead touchdown, Akron stopped UMass on a fourth-and-1 to get the ball back and ran off the final 6:39 of the clock. This series won't be ongoing much longer as UMass is leaving the Mid-American Conference after next season. UMass joined the MAC in April 2011 in football only, but the MAC wanted it as an all-sports member and UMass declined. It will play as an independent in the 2016 & '17 seasons as it searches for a home. Some believe UMass should drop back down a level again in football.
There was no opening total at sportsbooks because of his uncertain status. The Minutemen have covered the College Football odds in six straight MAC games. Akron has failed to cover four straight at home and six straight against teams with a losing record.
Free College Football Pick: If Frohnapfel doesn't play this should be a Zips rout so give the points -6.5 at BetOnline.