Year 11 Second Half: The championship game is within reach for the Zips
The four-loss season is now a distant memory as the Zips are in the championship hunt in Year 11
Welcome to the second half of the Year 11 season and another installment in the University of Akron’s quest to become a football powerhouse in NCAA Football 14. To learn more about this series and read up on past installments, visit the About page of this site.
In Years 6 through 9 of this dynasty, Coach Luke and the Zips had a total of four losses as they went 50-4. That’s partially why last season’s four-loss season felt so very strange. The feel-good Zips story suddenly started to feel, well, less good.
This season has felt like a redemption story in that the Zips have been winning the games that they should win thus far. A loss to an elite Oregon team on the road is the one blemish on the season but, honestly, it’s an understandable loss.
With big wins against South Carolina and Iowa as well as a number of shutouts against inferior competition, it feels like the Zips are hitting their stride again. What a year it’s been, right? Man, I’m so glad it’s over.
There’s still football left to play! In fact, the next two teams on the Zips schedule are teams they lost to last year. Could this redemption season suddenly become another cursed season? There’s only one way to find out…
Let’s get zipping!
Year 11 (2023-24) Second Half
The Zips survived a snow debacle against South Carolina when we last left them. There were sixteen turnovers in the game but the Zips came out the victors. After using a bye week to collect themselves, the Zips have two tough games remaining on the schedule. There’s an outside shot that they can still make the championship as a one-loss team. Unfortunately, there are currently five undefeated teams in their way though.
9-1 | Week 13 vs Navy
When we scheduled Navy last offseason, they were only rated 86 overall but they are now rated 93 overall with a 95 offense and 92 defense. They’ve improved as the season went on. When you couple that with the fact that they beat us last year, I’m not gonna lie… I’m nervous. I fear their triple-option craziness more than ever.
Before the game starts, I make sure our defensive settings are ready to focus on the run. I hope that’ll be a difference-maker to ensure we can hang with this scrappy team. I love the troops and all but, man, we need this win.
The Navy doesn’t run on us! WE RUN ON THE NAVY!
We put on a show with over 500 total yards in a 34-7 win. Our defense does an amazing job once again, but our rushing attack was just phenomenal.
I’ve given HB Ian Brown a lot of crap over our years together but he went off and had 258 total yards with three touchdowns in this one. His redemption arc this season has been fascinating to watch.
If you did want to see the video of this game, you can skim through the Twitch video here.
10-1 | Week 14 vs #3 Notre Dame
When we left the MAC and went Independent, we tried to start a rivalry with Notre Dame as the other main Independent team out there. This marks our fourth meeting with them at Soldier Field. Notre Dame has won both of the last two matchups though.
The Irish are undefeated this year and ranked #3 in the country. It goes without saying that our season hinges on the outcome of this game. A title game may or may not be in our future but we certainly will not make any sort of bowl game if we end up losing this one.
Let’s fight the Irish!
We win 37-21!
This is a huge win for the Zips and a big step in Coach Luke redeeming himself after some missteps last season. The offense seems back on track after some playbook adjustments and the defense continues to be our anchor. We had more than double the yards of the poor Irish team.
If you’d like to see the video of this game, here’s a link to when the Twitch stream started for it.
Our title hopes stay alive. There are still four undefeated teams above us after this game. In the last week of the season and/or the conference championship week, we need both Houston and Oregon to lose. The #1 and #2 teams in the country are Alabama and Florida and one of them will lose in the conference championship week. It’s fuzzy math but… we have a chance.
No, none of that goes to plan.
Houston wins out to remain undefeated while undefeated Alabama is set to play undefeated Oregon in the title game.
We do get a BCS bowl bid though!
11-1 | Rose Bowl vs #21 Iowa
We’re going to Pasadena, baby! In a weird twist of fate, we end up getting matched up with a team that we played and beat earlier this year.
The main thing here is that we want to get a big win to grow our prestige. We handled Iowa easily with a 24-6 win over them in Week 4. How differently could this game go?
You can check it out in the three-minute highlight reel here:
We win the Rose Bowl 52-27! This is Coach Luke’s eighth straight bowl victory and another feather in his cap.
Late in the third quarter, the Hawkeyes came within spitting distance as they made the score 31-27 after Rod Jackson threw a pick-six. The Zips responded and rallied off three unanswered touchdowns to seal this game.
This one-loss season with a Rose Bowl victory is a huge step forward for the Zips. After some ups-and-downs since leaving the MAC, this is the season that gives me the most faith that we can win another championship in the near future.
When I return home from the Rose Bowl, LeBron James is laid in front of my house asleep. I wake him up and he seems very startled. He awakens though and says that he’s been camped out for days waiting for me to come home.
He has good news. He tells me our season was more successful than he imagined and he wants to start investing his money into making Akron into a powerhouse football school worthy of entering the Big Ten. He plans to buy out Inficision from their stadium naming rights deal with Akron, and he wants to personally fund a brand new giant stadium for the Zips. I’m taken aback. As I start to thank LeBron, he tells me to shut up. He thanks me instead for all I’ve done for Akron and also thanks me for how I’ve inspired him to be a better man. He hugs me and says we should be friends and maybe do a weekly board game night.
And then, like that, he’s gone.
Well, damn. I guess Akron is one step closer to the big time. Let’s not Lebron down. We’ve got to have a big offseason now.
The offseason starts with the official word that DE James Smith broke Akron’s single-season sack record with eleven sacks. This kid was a freshman, y’all. I can’t wait to see what sort of numbers he can tally over his whole career here.
We also get word that LT Sam Malone wins the Outland Trophy! Also, the Thorpe Award goes to CB Johnny White. These are both senior players and they add to Akron’s trophy haul before they go. Cheers to them both!
As they’re both set to leave Akron, we also get word that WR Kelechi King and CB Trey Gipson both want to leave early for the draft. We have a house rule here that Coach Luke can only convince one player to stay each year. We have lots of receiver talent in the pipeline so I opt to convince Trey Gipson to stay by telling him about the sheer power of the Akron degree.
He agrees to stay. After that week, we go to the NFL Draft. It, once again, ends up being littered with Akron talent:
The recruiting portion of the offseason is a bit curious this year. We, once again, have filled most of our needs early in the year. Though there are five scholarships left to offer, I decide to focus all of my efforts on two offensive linemen. This is an area I want to beef up. I’ve said many times before that you win the game in the trenches.
This is what our final recruiting board looks like:
Do we get these two potential stud linemen? Huh? Do we?
Of course! Coach Luke wears a magical suit that hypnotizes potential recruits. We always get our guys.
Here is our final commit list for this season:
You can check out a full look at the commitments for this year and past years on this page of our dynasty spreadsheet.
The biggest news out of the rest of the offseason is actually quite impactful for the Year 12 season: our QB Rod Jackson is going to be shifted to halfback.
We don’t have a lot of prime talent at halfback with Ian Brown leaving and Rod Jackson was always an athlete who could play multiple positions. I’ve looked at him a lot on the field, and his running ability has never been an issue but his game management has always been questionable.
The offense in Year 12 is going to be led by balanced QB Leonard Sims and Rod Jackson will now be a valuable weapon we’ll use at HB, WR, and in Wildcat formations. I’m excited about this change.
In the Twitch streams, there are bowl game contests to create your own recruit to put into our universe. They are never players we’ll recruit at Akron but we’ll watch their progress elsewhere. Reader Gavin won our contest this time and he created a giant quarterback named Aaron Burrito:
Marshawn Lynch Jr was the recruit created last year and he committed to Notre Dame. Here’s a page of the dynasty spreadsheet that will be tracking the stats of all reader-created recruits.
Year 12 Schedule
We set up the schedule on the Twitch stream. There are a number of ranked teams on the schedule but our toughest tests will be against familiar foes in Oregon and Notre Dame.
Year 12 Top Players
As we get ready for Year 12, here’s a look at the top players on our roster:
Rubber City Dynasty Scheduling
I’ll be doing three Twitch streams for this season again. We’ll watch a bunch of regular-season games in the first two streams and then conclude with a bowl game stream. Here’s what the schedule looks like:
If you don’t have it already, here’s a link to my Twitch channel. The first stream will be on Tuesday night.
If you’re enjoying the series and the community, feel free to join our Discord server and chat with the other readers there as well.
Before we enter Year 12, I would love to hear from those of you that read this series but don’t get involved in the Twitch streams nor other auxiliary things. With Twitch and Discord now holding a home in this community, I want to ensure the newsletter readers are still enjoying the content here.
I ask this because I’m committing two nights a week to do Twitch streams now, and I’m not sure how many people care about the YouTube videos, spreadsheets, box scores, roster previews, and other things that I spend time on to create this whole universe. Maybe you love all of those things and that’s great! If nobody cares about the YouTube videos nor the dynasty spreadsheet then I now know that’s one less thing to spend time on each season!
If you’re a reader of the series and have thoughts about what you love about this series, drop that in the comments! By that same token, if there are things you could do without here, let me know too! It’s all gravy, baby.
I’d love to keep this thing going for all sixty years of Coach Luke’s career but I also want to make sure the series is still doing the things you all want it to do as it develops.
Thanks for your support, as always! Go Zips!