With a Miami (OH) win last night, the Kent State Golden Flashes were eliminated from the MAC East race, and the Buffalo Bulls are on the brink of elimination, however their Thursday night match-up still has plenty to play for. Both the Golden Flashes and the Bulls are still fighting for spots in bowls, with Kent State (3-6) needing to win out for eligibility, and UB (5-4) just one win away from eligibility themselves.
Kent State’s offense revolves around QB Dustin Crum. After serving as QB Woody Barrett’s back-up last season, Crum overtook Barrett for the starting job this season to the surprise of some. Crum leads the MAC in passing efficiency rating (150.7) thanks in large part to a 12/1 TD to interception ratio this season. In addition to the plays he makes with his arm, Crum leads the team in rushing on the season with 414 yards on 3.9 yards per carry. The Golden Flash offensive line will have to do a better job of protecting Crum against Buffalo’s talented front seven, so far this season Kent State has tied for 121st of 130, giving up 3.33 sacks per game. The backfield splits duties primarily between RBs Jo-El Shaw, and Will Matthews, although other backs mix in. The duo of Shaw and Matthews have combined for 638 yards on 4.56 yards per carry. On the outside, the receiving group is led by sophomore WR Isaiah McKoy who has accumlated 525 yards on 40 catches to go with 4 TDs.
The defense has been the real weakness for the Golden Flashes so far this season. Kent State is tenth in the conference in yards allowed per play at 6.4. The rush defense in particular has not been good, allowing 5.3 yards per carry, which the run happy Bulls will look to exploit. The Golden Flashes also have not excelled at turning the opposing team over, averaging just 1.2 turnover forced per game, good for ninth in the MAC.
Individually, the defensive standouts for Kent State are DL Theo Majette and CB Jamal Parker. Majette leads the Golden Flashes with four sacks, to go with one forced fumble. Parker has three of the four Kent State interceptions this season, placing him second in the MAC, and also has eight passes defended. Parker is also a threat in the kick return game, averaging 22.6 yards per return, good for sixth in the MAC.
The Golden Flashes have had a ho-hum season, winning the games you would expect them to win, and losing the games you would expect them to lose. The Bulls are hoping Kent State doesn’t buck that trend, as UB enters as six point favorites. The Bulls are riding a hot streak and match-up well with the Golden Flashes, and I expect Head Coach Lance Leipold excited to lock up bowl eligbility.