FACTS & STATS: Site: Peden Stadium (24,000) -- Athens, Ohio. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: KSU 2-3, OU 4-1. Away Record: KSU 1-5, OU 2-3. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, OU 0-0. Conference Record: KSU 2-5, OU 3-3. Series Record: Ohio University leads, 39-24-2.
GAME NOTES: Coach Paul Haynes will conclude his first season at Kent State, as his Golden Flashes battle the Ohio University Bobcats in a Mid-American Conference tilt at Peden Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Golden Flashes earned their first win since late September last week with a 24-6 victory over Miami-Ohio at home. The triumph concluded a five-game losing streak and improved the Golden Flashes to 3-8 overall, which includes a 2-5 mark in league play. Haynes has yet to experience a winning streak during his tenure as the team's head coach. Although Kent State is just 1-5 on the road in 2013, it had three very difficult non-conference matchups against LSU, Penn State and South Alabama, along with a trip to Muncie to battle Ball State, where it fell to the 9-2 Cardinals by just a field goal.
Ohio entered the month of November with a 6-2 record that was comprised of four wins by double-digit margins along with hard-fought decisions over two of Conference USA's top programs in North Texas and Marshall. Coach Frank Solich's team has fallen apart since at is was downed, 30-3, by Buffalo before last week's 49-0 blanking at Bowling Green. Ohio had not been held scoreless since 2005, and it also set a season-low with only 172 yards of total offense.
Although the Bobcats are 39-23-2 versus Kent State in the all-time series, they were defeated, 28-6, when they squared off with the Golden Flashes last season at Dix Stadium.
KSU built some momentum last week versus Miami. The team finally got the production it has been lacking out of the running back tandem of Trayion Durham and Dri Archer that was prevalent during its run into the Top-25 a season ago. Both senior tailbacks found the end zone on the ground, as did freshman quarterback Colin Reardon. Durham led the way with 109 yards on 17 carries, while Archer rushed 12 times for 83 yards. Archer's touchdown was his eighth in seven games and also marked the 37th score of his career.
The Golden Flashes have the eighth-most productive offense in the conference with an average of 353.6 yards per outing, but they are ranked 10th in scoring offense at just 18.6 points per game. The team's inability to avoid turnovers has prevented it from finishing off numerous drives that began with potential. KSU is near the bottom of the MAC in turnover margin due to its nine interceptions and eight lost fumbles.
Haynes's squad did a good job of protecting its possessions last time out as its only turnover came when backup quarterback David Fisher lost a fumble. Reardon, who is responsible for all of the picks and two fumbles, avoided any mistakes as he finished 13-of-22 passing for 147 yards. The rookie signal caller has connected on just 58.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,744 yards, with 11 TDs. Wideout Chris Humphrey has been the top receiving threat, with 48 catches for 559 yards and three scores. Archer and Casey Pierce have reeled in four touchdown passes apiece.
KSU's defensive unit struggled to slow down some of the top-notch offenses it faced earlier in the season, but it has stepped up its play in recent weeks. The Golden Flashes have allowed only 11 points and 240 yards of total offense in their past two outings. The recent strong play on the defensive side of the ball can be partially credited to the effort of senior defensive end Mark Fackler, who has recovered two fumbles and made 13 tackles, including two tackles for loss during the two-game span. Senior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix has been a consistent force en route to 12 TFL, which is the second-most in the league.
KSU's defensive front could continue to play well as Ohio allowed four sacks and permitted BGSU to register nine TFL last week. Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton dropped to 24-12 as a starter with the loss. He led the school to the MAC Championship as a sophomore and currently owns nine school records including the program standards for passing yards (8,522), completions (684) and touchdowns (63). Tettleton will be trying to bounce back after finishing 15-of-27 for only 93 yards with an interception in his last outing.
Senior tailback Beau Blankenship, who finished third in the MAC with 1,604 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 312 carries in 2012, was stymied for the second straight week by the Falcons. Over his past two outings, Blankenship has been held to 94 yards on 29 attempts, and he has not scored on the ground since Oct. 19. Senior wideout Donte Foster is one of four players to start all 10 games for Ohio's offense this season. He has been the primary option in the aerial attack along the way with an average of 73.4 receiving yards per game and six touchdowns on 53 catches.
The Bobcats' usually solid defense has disappeared during the current losing streak as well. They surrendered 460 total yards and seven offensive touchdowns, as BGSU had no trouble passing or running for big chunks of yardage. Despite the poor performance, OU is still third among MAC schools in total defense at 388.1 ypg, and fourth in points allowed per game at 25.3. Freshman lineman Tarell Basham has been one of the most promising newcomers in the conference as his season total of seven sacks has him tied for third in the league, and leaves him just three shy of the program's single-season record. Senior defensive back Xavier Hughes has also made his mark with four interceptions.
After starting the 2012 campaign with seven straight wins, Ohio went 1-4 to close out the regular season. The Bobcats have still only lost to one team with a sub. 500 record, so it is unlikely the Golden Flashes will be able to end their year on a positive note. However, Archer, Durham and Nix will all be tough to fend off as their effort and focus will be heightened for their final collegiate appearance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 28, Kent State 24
Tuesday, November 19, 8 p.m. (et)