ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan coach Brady Hoke said it'll be a "glazed-doughnut game" when the 11th-ranked Wolverines play the Akron Zips.
Hoke explained that when he was growing up and playing football, eating a glazed doughnut the morning before games was part of his routine.
He is now trying to bring his childhood ritual to Ann Arbor, promising early-arriving students they will get a doughnut before noon kickoffs. The school plans to pass out the sweet treat to the first 5,000 students who pass through the gates Saturday at Michigan stadium. Hoke's players can also have a doughnut, or more, when they have their pregame meal in the morning.
A cupcake might be more fitting with when Michigan (2-0) hosts the lowly Zips (1-1).
Here are five things to watch:
STRENGTH VS. WEAKNESS: Michigan's Devin Gardner-led offense is rolling, scoring 100 points and accounting for more than 900 yards in an 11-point win over Notre Dame and 50-point rout of Central Michigan. That's not good news for Akron. The Zips opened with a 38-7 loss at Central Florida and barely beat second-tier James Madison after giving up 33 points. They allowed both opponents to throw for more than 300 yards and to combine for nearly 1,000 yards of offense. Akron coach Terry Bowden, though, took something positive out of his defense making late-game stops to seal a rare victory. "In my two years here, it's the first close game I've been a part of here at Akron where were able to fight hard and win," he said.
AKRON'S QB DUO: The Zips have played two quarterbacks in their first two games with Kyle Pohl starting and Colorado transfer Nick Hirschman getting a chance to play, too. Pohl had an ankle injury last week and Hirschman had a knee injury, an ailment he suffered while celebrating one a touchdown. Pohl has completed 30 of 43 yards for 241 yards with two TDs in two games. Hirschman is 8 of 14 for 162 yards with three TDs, plus a rushing score. "They pull for each other, they're good teammates," Bowden said. "I don't think one would be upset if the other went in. They're a good 1-2 punch."
RUSHING FOUR: Michigan's defense will be spread out by the Zips, making it even more important for the Wolverines to work on their inability to get defensive linemen to QBs. "Akron is a wide-open attack with four receivers and so it's critical that we get better in the pass rush individually," Hoke said. Michigan didn't sack Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Reees last week until his final drive and often gave him plenty of time to throw.
RUNNING WITHOUT GARDNER: The Wolverines know Gardner can make plays with his legs, but they'd rather him hand off more often to running backs. "Superman has to be smart, too," Hoke said. The problem has been, however, that Fitzgerald Toussaint has been just OK in his first two games back from a season-ending leg injury. "We'd like to run the ball better from the tailback position," Hoke said. "That's always going to be a constant." Michigan is determined to get a traditional ground game going against Akron. And, Bowden seems to know it. "They may decide to see if they can run it down our throats," he said.
THEY'RE STREAKING: Michigan has won 16 straight home games, the longest active streak in major college football and the school's longest since a run at the Big House since winning the same number of games in a row from 2002 to 2005. "You attribute it to Coach Hoke and his staff and something they really emphasized," receiver Drew Dileo said. The Zips, meanwhile, have lost 27 straight road games since winning at Eastern Michigan nearly five years ago. "Our players will be in for an entirely different experience," Bowden said.
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