Year 14 Regular Season: All eyes on Akron as they defend their throne
Coach Luke tries to keep the Zips focused and hungry for another championship as they attempt to go back-to-back
Welcome to the next chapter in Coach Luke’s quest to win seven national championships in NCAA Football 14. To learn more about this series and read up on past installments, visit the About page of this site.
This post will recap the Year 14 regular season. I’ll be streaming the conclusion of the season on Twitch at 8:00 PM EST on Tuesday, November 10.
So much for the afterglow.
Coach Luke and the Akron Zips won their second national championship last season after a successful march through the Big Ten, and they are carrying a fifteen game winning streak into Year 14 of his tenure. Things should be good.
The mood is tense though. LeBron James recently retired from his legendary basketball career and he has chosen to be even more present in Zips football affairs. He is at nearly every practice and constantly in the ear of players, coaches, and the administration. Meanwhile, due to recent policy changes, there have been budget cuts on campus that have handcuffed Coach Luke’s recruiting ability.
This doesn’t feel like a happy championship team.
Nonetheless, they have a title to defend and expectations to meet. They are returning many players from their championship team, and they are starting the season as the preseason #1 ranked team and heavy favorites to win another title.
It’s Year 14 in our journey and it’s time to zip.
Year 14 Schedule
The schedule is very similar to last year’s schedule. The toughest matchups are likely going to be Notre Dame and TCU in our out-of-conference slate. There isn’t a team on our in-conference schedule that rates higher than 93 overall.
Year 14 Roster
Meanwhile, as usual, we are rated 99 overall. The oddsmakers have us pegged as favorites to go undefeated once again. You can read about the Year 14 roster here in the season preview post. That post includes some amazing backstory about DE James Smith in a piece written by reader Ian.
Year 14 Season (2026-27)
It’s the year 2026. By now, you’re familiar with most of the happenings in the future. The latest thing you should know is that books have been banned. Not a particular book. All books. It’s kind of sad, and a major bummer for both writers and the entire publishing industry.
Luckily this has not affected Coach Luke and the Zips football team as they’re too busy playing football to have time to read books.
We start off the 2026 football season with our fourteenth matchup against our beloved Golden Flashes.
0-0 | Week 2 vs Kent State
The only constant in life is change. For that reason, it’s comforting to know that Kent State has always been on our schedule. We struggled against them in our early days before we became a dominant force. Last year, we shocked the world by starting off our championship season with a 91-point outburst against them.
Let’s see if we can match that crazy scoring total this time around.
Dang. Our backups are unable to get something going in the second half and Roland Williams misses three kicks as we only put up 63 points.
Randy Gore had a huge day on offense and Lamar Taylor snatched two interceptions for our defense. These two may be our stars to watch this year.
On the recruiting front, we have been hampered by recruiting restrictions that are only allowing us to pursue a total of 35 players this year. That already hurts us a bit but then we also get hurt when we try to make offers to these players and not a single one chooses to insta-commit to us. We’ll be fighting an uphill battle to try to get as many of these 35 guys as we can. Here are the top players on our board after the Kent State game:
1-0 | Week 3 vs #5 Notre Dame
We’ve been playing Notre Dame at Soldier Field for five straight years. Due to a scheduling conflict, we had to find a new neutral site this year and ended up going to MetLife Stadium outside of New York.
We are in the midst of a winning streak that spans three different seasons and it feels like we’re kind of unstoppable. Before the game, we find out that the Fighting Irish are rated 99 overall this year so it may be a tougher battle than initially expected but confidence is still high in Akron.
We watched the game on Twitch and here is a condensed two-minute highlight package:
Um. We got destroyed.
The final score was 44-21 but we actually didn’t even watch this whole game on Twitch because it got so out-of-hand with Notre Dame jumping out to a 38-0 lead.
Leonard Sims threw three interceptions and we couldn’t get any offense going at all. It’s hard to tell if this was a weird anomaly or if we’re actually in for a rude awakening this year.
Regardless, we’re suddenly in the position of having to get help from other teams if we are going to return to the title game as we’re still striking out on the recruiting trail. I suddenly feel a bit of worry about this season.
1-1 | Week 5 vs Auburn
We are now focused on an upcoming game against #1 TCU in Week 6. In order to prep for that game, we thankfully get a nice tune-up game against Auburn. They are rated 86 overall and should offer a chance for us to get our mojo back.
Great! We win 49-19 and throw for seven touchdowns in this one.
After the train wreck against Notre Dame, this felt like a huge win for morale. After the game, we also get the fabulous news that we finally got a player to commit to Akron. We land a four-star center named Stephen Mullins who is rated 80 OVR. That’s a big get for our offensive line.
2-1 | Week 6 at #1 TCU
I didn’t expect that the TCU game to be as big as it is, but here we are. The Notre Dame blowout changed our entire season. We’re ranked #7 in the country and we would have no hope of making another title game if we lose to TCU.
The good news is that they are rated 95 overall, so we are a more talented team on paper. The bad news is that we’re playing this game at their house in Fort Worth, TX. How we perform in this game will likely define our season.
Before the game, we find out even worse news. QB Leonard Sims had suffered a groin injury against Auburn and it’s bad enough that he is going to sit out for the next few weeks. We’re lucky that we have an elite backup in QB Johnny McNeil behind him but this is still a bit worrisome.
The Zips need to be super zippy in this one. Fingers crossed…
Here is a two-minute highlight reel of the game as we watched it on Twitch:
We win 38-10! We jumped out to an early lead and just rolled in this. They got a late TD to make it look closer but this was never anything to worry about.
Yup, we just traveled to Texas and smashed the #1 team in the country. This is the Akron team that I know and love.
Kudos to Johnny McNeil for stepping in here and delivering an efficient game against the top-ranked Horned Frogs. He was 26 for 32 with 371 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. That’s a heroic performance.
There’s still a difficult path ahead of us if we are going to return to the BCS National Championship Game as we need a number of teams to start losing but this was a gigantic game for us in terms of getting our mojo back.
4-0 | Week 7 at Iowa
We now enter conference play and there aren’t many tough teams on our remaining schedule in terms of their rating. The good news is that there are actually a few Big Ten teams ahead of us in the rankings, including Penn State, so we may be able to rise the ranks just by beating Big Ten opponents.
The first challenger for us is the Iowa Hawkeyes. We travel to Kinnick Stadium and hope to put on a show against the 91-rated Hawkeyes.
Big win! We jump out to a huge lead again and ride that to a 51-7 blowout victory. Freshman QB Jon Moore was brought into the game to get his first taste of game action and he did pretty well for a youngin’.
The only bad news for the Zips is that we are still struggling on the recruiting front. Nobody else has committed yet and Coach Luke decides to invite out nearly every recruit for the Week 9 matchup against a highly-ranked Penn State team.
4-1 | Week 8 at Michigan
Our two toughest matchups in the Big Ten this year are against Michigan and Penn State. They are both rated 93 overall. While that is much lower than our 99 rating, it still the only true chance of somebody upsetting us. We travel to Michigan first and then follow that up with Penn State visiting us.
Penn State is rising up the rankings and this Michigan game should give us a good glimpse at how we might do against Penn State.
Hey! We scored over 70 in this big win. We did that twice last year but that’s our first time doing it this year. Johnny McNeil is still running the show here but this got out of hand so we saw more of Jon Moore. McNeil has been great but this should be his last game starting for us as Leonard Sims is scheduled to return for our big game against Penn State next week.
We arrange our recruiting board to hopefully get some recruits committed after that Penn State game. Here’s what it looks like:
5-1 | Week 9 vs #1 Penn State
In a bit of a surprise, the Nittany Lions have made it to a #1 ranking by the time we face them here. Despite them being rated the same as the Michigan team we just destroyed, they’ve been able to stay undefeated so far this year.
We’re seeing some other undefeated teams fall so we’ve risen to #5 in the rankings. We might be able to jump to #3 or #4 with a big win here.
In a bit of a surprise, Leonard Sims announces that his groin is still not healthy enough to play in this game. We will be sticking with the hot hand of Johnny McNeil instead.
With over a dozen recruits coming out to visit, there is a lot riding on this game.
Can we take down the top team in the country for the second time this season?
We absolutely embarrass them in a huge 54-3 win. Our backups come in again in this one and the Zips are now getting back into the championship chase.
This game was also a giant moment in our Year 14 recruiting process. Thanks to this big win, we were able to get six players to commit after the game!
OLB Brian Gonzales (81 OVR) | ★★★★★ #1 OLB
CB Kevin Harris (79 OVR) | ★★★★★ #1 CB
HB Chris Morgan (79 OVR) | ★★★★★ #1 HB
WR Matt Concepcion (78 OVR) | ★★★★★ #4 WR
SS Erik White (78 OVR) | ★★★★ #3 SS
MLB Lewis Clark (64 OVR) | ★★★ #75 MLB
We got four frickin’ five-star players in that bunch! There was some worry about our recruiting limitations this year but we are doing just fine and bringing in top-tier talent still. This recruiting class is all about quality over quantity.
The Notre Dame game is a distant memory now and we are feeling good in Akron once again. The Fighting Irish, despite their impressive game against us, have gone on to lose a few games against lesser competition and are falling in the rankings.
As we watch the scoreboards, we see other undefeated teams fall and find out that we move up to #2 in the country after this game. We now can likely return to the title game if we just win out!
The Zips are zipping again!
6-1 | Weeks 10 through 13
The only remaining game in our conference schedule that may cause a bit of trepidation is against Michigan State in Week 14 as they are bouncing in-and-out of the top 25 rankings this year.
Leonard Sims returns after the Penn State game and then we proceed to easily dispose of our conference foes over the coming weeks.
Week 10 vs Ohio State - W 49-17 (Box Score)
Week 11 at Indiana - W 59-40 (Box Score)
Week 12 vs Northwestern - W 56-7 (Box Score)
Week 13 at Cincinnati - W 59-21 (Box Score)
During these four games, Leonard Sims went on a tear and threw for 20 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. He truly is made for simmed games and likely would have been a Heisman candidate if he didn’t pull his groin earlier this season.
We find ourselves as the #1 team in the country after this flurry of big wins. We just have one final test to ensure that we have control over our team’s destiny in the postseason.
10-1 | Week 14 vs #24 Michigan State
There’s no reason to think this should be a scary game for us. Michigan State is rated 90 overall. Based on recent history, we have found ourselves easily taking care of any team that is rated below 95 overall. Michigan State is 8-3 though and they are ranked #24 in the country as we face them.
Can we win this game and stay #1 in the country for another week?
An 87-20 victory!
We nearly put up 90 points again in this one and basically have a party on the field where everyone on offense and defense gets a chance to shine.
We remain #1 in the country and find out that we are playing #5 Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship once again. Assuming that we can take care of business in that one, there’s a chance we will have a rematch against TCU in the BCS National Championship Game.
We’ll find out about that tomorrow night on Twitch!
Recruiting Update & Player Stats
In those final weeks of the regular season, a few more recruits signed on with Akron. While our class isn’t the deepest class we’ve ever had, it’s got the most top-tier talent that I’ve ever seen in any of our recruiting classes:
If you want a closer look at these players, join the Discord server and go to the #recruiting-talk channel there. To get a look at the season stats for our players this year, here’s a link to the spreadsheet that contains the team stats and dynasty history.
Championship Twitch Stream at 8:00 PM EST!
We’re in the same position as last year! We have a Big Ten Championship game and then we have a potential BCS National Championship Game after that. I’ll be streaming the games on Twitch at 8:00 PM EST on Tuesday, November 10. If you’re reading this on Monday night, that’s tomorrow!
Come on out and enjoy a look at this legendary Zips team. The games should last an hour-or-so each.
I’m really looking forward to hanging with you all and I hope you can make it because I will have a special announcement about the future of this series after those games. I’ll repeat that in bolder text, just in case you are quickly scrolling through:
There will be a special announcement tomorrow after the bowl game regarding the future of Rubber City Dynasty!
See you tomorrow night! Or, if Twitch isn’t your thing, see you here in the next newsletter!