With all the hype and attention surrounding him, it sometimes seems as if DeAngelo Williams will be alone on the field at the Motor City...

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DETROIT — With all the hype and attention surrounding him, it sometimes seems as if DeAngelo Williams will be alone on the field at the Motor City Bowl.

The Memphis tailback is the NCAA career leader in all-purpose yards, finishing the season with 1,726 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. The next test for Williams comes today against Akron in the Motor City Bowl 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 pro prospect as Williams.

“Wolfe is a good runner, but DeAngelo is special,” Brookhart said. “Garrett will be an NFL draft pick, but DeAngelo will be a high pick.”

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 take the MAC’s Eastern Division, and beat Northern Illinois on Luke Getsy’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Domenik 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,” Memphis coach Tommy West said.

The Tigers have gone through four quarterbacks this season. Former wide receiver Maurice Avery is the starting quarterback.

“It has been a fun year, even though it has been the hardest, most difficult year I’ve been through,” West said. “In the end, it has been fun. We had to change so many times during the season. We lost our top wideout, our top D-lineman, our top linebacker, two quarterbacks. … I don’t know how many people played their last six games with their fourth quarterback. It has been unbelievable.

“I think we had 16 seniors, to be honest with you, [and they] have bought into every time we went in on Sunday and said we’re changing things up a little bit because we don’t have any choice. They bought into it and trusted we knew what we were doing.”

Akron’s offense is led by Getsy and Hixon. 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 TDs.

Florida QB seeks turnaround

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — From the day Urban Meyer became Florida’s coach, there was speculation Gators quarterback Chris Leak might struggle in the offense. While former Utah coach Meyer and Leak spent the next eight months deflecting such talk, reality arrived in September.

Did Leak struggle? After throwing 29 touchdown passes in 2004, he has 18 this season, with the Gators (8-3) meeting Iowa (7-4) on Jan. 2 in the Outback Bowl.

Leak passed for 3,197 yards as a sophomore and 2,361 as a junior. His passing efficiency dropped from 144.92 to 136.44.

Near the end of the season, Leak said, “It’s just like being a freshman all over again, a new offense coming in. Just learning things, learning to anticipate things better, knowing exactly what you’re going to see on the field. I just think the more games we played, the more practice we had, the better off we got.

“You could see the improvement as the season went on.”