DETROIT - With all the hype and all the attention, it sometimes seems as if DeAngelo Williams will be alone on the field at the Motor City Bowl.
The Memphis tailback is the NCAA's career leader in all-purpose yards, finishing the season with 1,726 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. The next test for the second-team All-American comes Monday against Akron at Ford Field.
"He's an incredibly dangerous back," Akron coach J.D. Brookhart said. "You know he's going to bust a couple big runs during the game, but you have to try to limit him."
The Zips (7-5) beat Northern Illinois 31-30 in the Mid-American Conference championship game, but allowed 270 yards to Huskies tailback Garrett Wolfe in the process. That worries Brookhart because while Wolfe was one of the nation's leading rushers, he isn't considered the same kind of NFL prospect as Williams.
"Wolfe is a good runner, but DeAngelo is special," he said. "Garrett will be an NFL draft pick, but DeAngelo will be a high pick."
Akron defensive end Brian White agrees.
"He's going to be tough to stop," he said. "He reminds me a lot of Barry (Sanders)."
The Tigers (6-5) face a team on one surprising run. The Zips were not highly regarded going into the season, but they won a tiebreaker to win the MAC's Eastern Division, then beat Northern Illinois on Luke Getsy's 36-yard touchdown pass to Dominik Hixon with 10 seconds to play.
The win gave Akron its first championship in 105 years of football and put the Zips into their first Division I-A bowl game.
"All we know is that we're playing a championship team, and that's exciting.... We know what the MAC is capable of them. We'll be ready," Memphis coach Tommy West said.
On offense, Akron is led by Getsy and Hixson. The junior quarterback threw for 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns while Hixon had 1,147 receiving yards and seven scores. Brett Biggs led the Zips in rushing with 1,184 yards and 10 scores.