Welp. Kent State is a lot closer to Cleveland than UMass is, and either Kent, OH is larger than Amherst, MA, or they just have a superior newspaper, because this week's edition of behind enemy lines is full of material to a scale we just didn't see from the Minutemen media.
We'll start with the general previews, and within that group, with the crib notes page provided by Kent State Athletics:
After five out-of-state road games over six weeks, Kent State returns to Dix Stadium Saturday, hosting Buffalo on Hall of Fame Weekend. The Golden Flashes will be playing the first of four consecutive games against Mid-American Conference East Division opponents to close out the regular season. With its postseason back to the wall, Kent State must win the rest of its games to become bowl eligible.
If you're traveling down, consider stopping at a store and grabbing a can of veggies or something, as there will be a food drive as part of the day's events.
The gameday prep from the Cleveland Plain Dealer written by their superstar MAC reporter Elton Alexander is more in-depth than you see here, but it gives you what you need to know:
Outlook: Plain and simple, is there any gas left in the tank for Kent State. No bye week and a stretch of five games out of six on the road, not to mention a rash of injuries, has clearly taken a toll.
KSU spotlight: Word is starting tailback Trayion Durham has been wearing a red cross jersey some of the past two weeks in practice, leading to more reps for Anthony Meray, Julian Durden and possibly even freshman Roman Clay.
Buffalo spotlight: Bulls are doing just about everything right, particularly in conference play. The have the No. 1 rushing defense (90. ypg allowed), the No. 1 scoring defense (5.7 ppg allowed), the No. 1 total defense (259.3 ypg allowed).
I must apologize to Mr. Alexander. In This Week in #MACtion this past week, I wondered why he didn't have a twitter account despite being a prolific writer on the MAC for the Plain Dealer. It turns out he does have an account at @eaPeeDee, but it's not much more than a list of Alexander's articles.
Back to his article, I'm interested to see that Durham has been limited in practice, but I assume he's still good to go.
Allen Moff from the Record Courier has a poorly edited article, but one with a lot of great quotes and a powerful stat about Kent's schedule up to now:
For the eighth consecutive week, the Kent State football team will face a foe with an unblemished conference record when the red-hot Buffalo Bulls invade Dix Stadium on Saturday.
The final game preview comes from Kent Wired, a conglomerate of the various student media pages at Kent St.
After eight straight games, the Flashes are weary.
A grueling, 12-game schedule void of a bye week has done the Flashes no favors, and it doesn’t get any easier this week when they host Mid-American Conference opponent Buffalo.
The students seem to be the most pessimistic about the Flashes' chances this weekend, focusing on a rash of injuries and the lack of a bye week. Of course, they don't have much positive to say about the Bulls, either, so maybe it's just their general tone.
Elton Alexander has more to say on the injuries, as well, with a focus on the Flashes front 7:
Injuries across the front, particularly to Nate Terhune and Roosevelt Nix, plus Chris Fairchild, have put KSU in a dire situation. The Flashes are allowing 228.2 yards rushing per game, and have not been a dominating pass rush group. A look at the roster might offer the answer why.
One key Kent injury looks to be in the rearview mirror, however:
Kent State redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon has returned to practice after missing last Saturday's game due to an ankle injury, and is expected to start Saturday's home game vs. Buffalo.
The adversity isn't limited to just the schedule and injuries for Kent State. Offensive Lineman Pat McShane has overcome a lot to make it to his senior year:
The offensive lineman from Stow had arrived at KSU as a junior walk-on who previously played at Indiana, but lost his passion for the game as he struggled through 18 months of numerous deaths in and around his immediate family. But once the football fires returned, McShane joined the Flashes, who ironically needed one last piece to solidify their offensive line. A dream season followed, 11-3, with a Mid-American Conference East Division title, followed by Kent's first bowl appearance since 1972.
And former Kent Coach Don James passed away on Sunday. He will be honored with "DJ" helmet stickers. I'm not as big a College Football history buff as I am in other sports, but Coach James' passing has made headlines across the entire CFB spectrum, not just in MACland.
The Kent State football team will honor former coach Don James, who died on Sunday of complications from pancreatic cancer, on Saturday by wearing stickers on the back of their helmets. James was 80.
Kent Wired had a Q&A session with two UB representatives from The Spectrum
Daily Kent Stater reporter Nick Shook caught up with senior sports editors Jon Gagnon and Ben Tarhan of The Spectrum, Buffalo’s student newspaper, to learn more about the Bulls before they arrive in Kent.
It's nothing more in-depth than you'll find here at Bull Run, but it's nice to see collaboration.
Finally, for anyone making the trip, be prepared to politely clap for some Kent athletes of old.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and as always, while I've pulled out some snippets, click through to the articles themselves, where you'll find a more complete picture of this week's game. Look for media follow up to Buffalo-Kent State and the rest of UB Athletics' weekend in the Weekend Roundup next Monday evening.