Year 13 Postseason: A Big Ten Championship would put the Zips in the title game
Coach Luke needs to get Akron focused for postseason play now that a championship is on the line
Welcome to the Year 13 postseason 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.
This was a season of new beginnings with a new conference to call home and a new stadium to defend. Many people expected big things for Akron, but it still would have been a bit farfetched to expect Akron to be this dominant in their first run through the Big Ten.
After the school dumped a seemingly unlimited amount of funds into Coach Luke’s recruiting program over the last few years, we are now reaping the benefits. The team is blowing out every competitor that comes their way and there hasn’t even been an instance where we needed to worry whether victory was in hand. Past foes such as Notre Dame fell easily this time around.
It’s now not a shock that the Zips are the clear #1 team in the nation. They have a date with #4 Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship. A win in that game will clinch a berth in the BCS National Championship Game for the first time in five years. If things get out of hand, Akron fans may be scoreboard-watching to find out if they’ll play Texas or TCU in the title game.
Can it all actually end the way we hope this time around?
The only way to find out is to get zippin’.
Year 13 (2025-26) Postseason
The team took a week off before their first Big Ten conference championship game. To ensure that they’d stay loose, Coach Luke treated the team to another vacation. He convinced the school to pay for an impromptu trip to Iceland for the entire team. It was a way to get away from the national media and let the team disconnect for a bit. No phones were allowed. Iceland in December offered the wonderful opportunity for the team to see the Northern Lights, which prompted an emotional speech from Coach Luke about how this team’s light can shine brighter than the Northern Lights.
Here’s a picture that FB Gerald McDougal took on the trip:
It was a good time. But all good times must end. They returned home and got ready to travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game.
12-0 | Big Ten Championship vs #4 Nebraska
The Big Ten faithful are still coming to terms with the fact that Akron is even in the Big Ten this year. The fact that the team demolished everyone in the Big Ten and now is playing in the title game is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. Though they are big underdogs, fans of most Big Ten teams are rooting for Nebraska in this game.
Akron knows what is on the line. There’s only one thing they need to do…
And do they?
A shutout in the Big Ten championship! There’s no denying it at this point: this defense is legendary.
Adrian Hall shines as the second option at halfback. Leonard Sims is a little shaky with three interceptions, but he could afford to be with the defense doing such a great job. Praise on the defense goes all around but Lamar Taylor continues an impressive season with two interceptions and “Stone Cold” Todd Austin goes off for two sacks.
The freakin’ BCS National Championship Game!
Who are we playing?
The freakin’ Texas Longhorns!
13-0 | BCS National Championship Game vs #2 Texas
Here we are again.
A familiar foe in a familiar game.
We last faced Texas when we lost to them in a dramatic season-opening overtime game in Year 10 (Highlights). It was one of the most bruising losses in Coach Luke’s history and one that critics of his still bring up as evidence of his poor game management skills.
That narrative can be squashed if Coach Luke and the Zips can conquer the Longhorns this time when we travel out to the Rose Bowl.
Much has changed since our Year 8 national title. We have a completely different offensive system and no longer have a soft MAC schedule helping us towards an undefeated schedule. This title game feels different. It feels special.
Let’s hope it feels special as we watch it too. Here are the highlights:
NATIONAL F***ING CHAMPIONS!
We did it again with another lights-out defensive performance. The game felt a little tense until a pick-six by Quentin Vaughn broke the game open and we never looked back from there. Similar to the Nebraska game, there were turnovers from Sims but it can be swept under the rug as this was domination from start-to-finish.
I’m known to wear my heart on my sleeve and it got me teary-eyed to see our boys win this game, as you may have seen in the video. This was a great win for a great fictional team and a great set of readers. I’m over-the-moon.
In addition to my usual highlight reel, reader Abby put together a wonderful montage sequence set to the song “One Shining Moment” that included much more of our beloved Zippy mascot. You can see it here.
The Zips have had struggles in recent years at times but there was none of that this year. This team will go down in history books as one of the most dominant football teams ever. Reader Josh sums it up quite well:
Average Points For: 49.4
Average Points Against: 14.1
Average Point Differential: 35.3
Ranked Teams Defeated: 7 (including three Top 5 wins)
Closest Game: 12 pt win vs. MSU
There are so many key parts to this team but a dominant defense really made it so we never had to worry in any game. With many players returning, there’s hope that this team can run it back in dominant fashion now. In order to accomplish that, we must go through an offseason though.
Before any work starts in the offseason, we receive a ton of national accolades. Our team wins more national awards than we have ever before. Here’s our haul:
Bednarik Award & Thorpe Award: Lamar Taylor (CB)
Nagurski Trophy & Lombardi Award: T.J. Blanco (DE)
Outland Trophy & Rimington Trophy: Andrew Ward (C)
Linebacker of the Year: Trevor Allen (OLB)
Returner of the Year: Randy Gore (WR)
Coach of the Year: Coach Luke (Coach)
Congrats to all the players on their amazing performances! You can see their stats in more detail on this spreadsheet to know why they won those awards.
I’m very happy for the players but I’m also amazed and humbled that I won the Coach Of The Year award again. It’s been a while. As I sit here with the award, I can’t help but smile.
Wait a second.
I recognize a familiar smell of cologne. I smell LeBron James. Be right back.
Okay, yeah. LeBron tried to steal my Coach Of The Year award from me. He was dressed in stealthy clothes but he’s a gigantic man and was easy to spot. We had a talk. He’s proud of me and proud of the stadium. He thinks he deserves the award more than me but I explained to him that coaches are important to a team’s success too. He didn’t quite understand but eventually relented and went back home. Love the guy but, sheesh, he’s a pain sometimes.
Next up in our offseason is talking to our coordinators and convincing them to stick around. I sadly get the news that both long-time coordinators decide to retire though. Due to our prestige, we’re lucky enough to bring in two new top-tier coordinators in OC Aaron Burrel and DC John Mack.
In the Players Leaving stage of the offseason, we find out that a few players want to leave early in addition to our usual graduating seniors.
Hearing that MLB Jack Garcia wanted to leave was devastating for Coach Luke. He convinced the school to spend a ton of money on an elaborate presentation about the value of the Akron degree. Jack was impressed and decided to stick around.
On NFL Draft Day, we have another amazing showing as a horde of Zips are picked by pro teams:
The recruiting portion of the offseason has us focused on the areas that have been unfulfilled this year. We still want more WR help and more linebacker help. We don’t completely abandon a DT and SS that we are close to getting as well. Here’s how we assign points for our final recruiting push:
We don’t get a WR but we get OLBs Mike Allen and Dallas Miller as well as DT Seth Gant. No complaints there! It’s still an incredible class.
Our final commitment list looks like this:
We continue to have one of the top recruiting programs in the country. It’s no surprise. It’s been a continual effort from Coach Luke and he’s gotten the school to buy into his master plan. As usual, we get commitments from all over the country as we have a very advanced recruiting process that strays far from home.
You can check out a full look at the commitments for this year and past years on this page of our dynasty spreadsheet.
Before we close out the offseason, the country finds out that there has been a bill passed to make public higher education free for everyone. That’s great news for future college-goers but Akron is in a bit of a panic over it. They’ve been willing to finance Coach Luke’s crazy recruiting ventures because they could just keep raising tuition since there was a high demand to attend Akron now.
Everything has changed now.
In the early Spring, the Board of Trustees calls a meeting with Coach Luke and gives him the unfortunate news that they have to cut his recruiting budget majorly in the future. He’s irate and a bit angry at the university for suggesting such things but he knows there’s nothing that can be done about it at this moment. While he doesn’t necessarily forgive the university, he accepts their new terms.
Will this affect the long-term outlook of the program? We don’t know yet. We do know that the roster we have now is still in place and winning while we have elite talent is more important than ever.
Year 14 Recruiting Change
The budget cuts at Akron mean that we are going to do something different with our recruiting process starting next year. We are creating a 35-man recruiting board in the preseason with Coach Luke’s full list of preferred guys and we are never modifying that list from that point forward. We’ll scout them and just have to deal with them being Busts if they are. If somebody commits to another school then that’s just one less potential player to get. No more traveling the country and scouting a hundred players throughout the year.
Year 14 Schedule & Roster
The schedule for next year looks fairly similar to Year 13 as we have familiar conference foes and rivals in Kent State and Notre Dame. We also have a date with last year’s #2 team TCU to prove that we are truly the best in the country.
To have a full look at our roster for the upcoming season, check out this spreadsheet.
On the Twitch stream, there’s a contest held during the bowl games to pick the game’s total points with the winner getting to create their own recruit.
Reader Chad, a long-time contributor to the series, got the honors this year. Here’s the backstory for his character:
Chad Ashton, listed as being from the Philly area but has only lived in the U.S. for two years. Prior to that, he lived in England (nope, but you'd be surprised how frequently people meeting me mistake me for British or Irish), where he grew up dreaming of being a defenseman (yes, that was my natural position) in the Premier League. His first year in the US, one of the football coaches at his high school happened to be passing the soccer field at the right time and saw him boot a ball over half the length of the field (yes, though I'm pretty sure I was young enough that we weren't playing on full-length fields yet) and tried to recruit him to be their kicker. Though initially dismissive of the game that Americans call "football", he did his research and realized that the middling speed that was hampering his football game wouldn't be an issue as an American football kicker, and so he joined the team as a junior.
Rubber City Dynasty Scheduling
If you aren’t familiar with the scheduling here, I’ll be streaming games on Twitch on Tuesday and Friday nights. That means I am starting the Year 14 streams tonight! It feels a little weird to start the season streams before I posted the yearly preview but that will be coming soon. This is the first time the Twitch portion has gotten out of sync with the newsletter and hopefully, it’ll be the only time in our history here.
As for tonight, it is Election Night and I want to make sure I’m settled in and ready to go before starting the stream so I am starting 30 minutes later than usual. That means the schedule for this season will be:
Feel free to join in the Twitch fun if you want a distraction from a busy night of political news. Let’s win a back-to-back championship for Akron… and for America!