TheKent State Golden Flashes will look for a third straight win to open their 2020 season when they host the Akron Zips on Tuesday night. Kent State is coming off of an overpowering 62-24 win over Bowling Green, while the Zips fell to Ohio on the road, 24-10.
Although Akron lost its 19th straight game, the Zips hung around against the Bobcats. It was a 17-10 game entering the fourth quarter but Ohio scored a touchdown with a little more than two minutes remaining to secure the victory.
The Zips had a few bright spots despite the loss, as they outgained the Bobcats 435 to 307 and were 7-for-16 on third-down conversions. But three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) certainly didn't help the cause, and Ohio averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Kent State thoroughly dismantled Bowling Green, racking up 667 yards and 34 first downs. Last week's game was tied 10-10 after the first quarter before the Golden Flashes scored the next 38 points, including four touchdowns in the second quarter alone.
Despite Akron's recent struggles, the Zips have had the upper hand in this rivalry. Last season's 26-3 win by Kent State snapped a four-game losing streak to Akron, who leads the series overall, 35-25-2.
Akron at Kent State
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Kent State -23
When Akron Has the Ball
One of the bright spots in last week's loss to Ohio was running back Teon Dollard. The junior college transfer exploded for 165 yards on 22 carries (7.5 ypc) against the Bobcats. His longest run of the game was 39 yards, and through two games, he's second in the MAC in rushing. Dollard's production is critical with freshman quarterback Zach Gibson experiencing some growing pains as he's getting acclimated to the college game. Gibson has thrown three interceptions and been sacked six times, but if Dollard can be effective against Kent State, that should help open things in the passing game.
Akron is averaging 173.0 rushing yards per game in the early going, something that Zips head coach Tom Arth has to be pleased with given he has four redshirt freshmen starting along the offensive line. This young group will be tested by a Golden Flashes defense that has recorded seven sacks in two games. Kent State paces the MAC with just 173.0 passing yards per game allowed and ranks fifth with 160.5 rushing yards allowed.
When Kent State Has the Ball
The Golden Flashes have gotten off to a fast and explosive start on offense behind the play of quarterback Dustin Crum. The senior has six touchdowns passes with just one interception through two games and he's also added a score on the ground. Kent State is leading the MAC in total, rushing, and passing offense, averaging 549.0 yards per game to go along with 44.5 points per contest.
Crum has gotten plenty of support from his teammates with Isaiah McKoy (14 receptions, 178 yards, 3 touchdowns) serving as his No. 1 target and Bryan Bradford (7.4 ypc) and Marquez Cooper (2 touchdowns) doing their part in the running game. Akron is giving up 7.3 yards in play, the second-worst mark in the MAC, and the Zips' defense will have its hands full trying to slow down a Golden Flashes offense that can it do on the ground or through the air.
Akron head coach Tom Arth has begun the gradual process of rebuilding the Zips, with more than 70 players classified as freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and transfers on the roster. The Zips played well against Ohio last week, but Kent State's offense is clicking on all cylinders, and the Golden Flashes have a rather sizeable advantage when it comes to talent. Kent State should have little trouble moving to 3-0 on the season.
Prediction: Kent State 42, Akron 21
(Dustin Crum photo courtesy of @KentStFootball)