The Kent State Golden Flashes will look to improve to 2-0 on the season when they take on the Bowling Green Falcons on Tuesday night. Kent State got its season started on a winning note last Wednesday, defeating Eastern Michigan 27-23 at home. The Golden Flashes led 20-9 at halftime, but the Eagles scored two straight touchdowns to go ahead 23-20 early in the fourth quarter. A Dustin Crum touchdown pass to Mark Williams with 7:31 left proved to be the decisive score.
After the game, Kent State head coach Sean Lewis said, "We found a way to win, that's the important thing but there is a bunch to clean up. Obviously look to the penalties, the turnovers, the missed opportunities in the red zone, our inability to convert on third down. But we got some key stops, some key moments and obviously some big scores and moments to find a way to win."
Bowling Green came into its season-opener with high hopes of showing improvement in head coach Scot Loeffler's second season, but instead, Toledo dominated the Falcons on both sides of the ball in a 38-3 loss. Bowling Green was nearly doubled up by the Rockets in total offense (524 vs. 267), was 3-for-14 on third down, and committed three turnovers.
Loeffler was unsparing in his criticism of the Falcons' performance. "We played atrocious football in the first half." Naturally, Loeffler and his team will be looking for a better performance at home against Kent State on Tuesday night.
Kent State at Bowling Green
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Kent State -18
When Kent State Has the Ball
Quarterback Dustin Crum was considered the best at his position in the MAC entering this season (Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-MAC selection), and the senior got off to a solid start last week against Eastern Michigan. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, although he did throw one interception in the red zone. Crum also finished with 35 rushing yards and a score on eight carries, showing off his dual-threat ability.
Crum's favorite target against the Eagles was junior wide receiver Isaiah McKoy, another preseason first-team all-conference pick by Athlon. McKoy caught eight passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Another key contributor to the win was redshirt freshman running back Bryan Bradford. A large ball carrier (6-0, 243), Bradford bowled over EMU for 72 yards on 12 carries in his first collegiate game. As a team, Kent State ran for 212 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries (4.6 ypc).
Whether they choose to run it or throw it, the Golden Flashes should find success moving the ball against a Bowling Green defense that surrendered 524 yards and 25 first downs to Toledo last week. The Falcons gave up 310 yards on the ground alone and yielded a total of 23 plays that gained 10 or more yards.
When Bowling Green Has the Ball
It was not a pretty debut for Falcons quarterback Matt McDonald. The Boston College transfer struggled mightily against Toledo, going 8-for-30 (27 percent) as a passer for 128 yards with two interceptions. What's even more surprising about that performance is that the Rockets didn't record a single sack of McDonald, meaning his poor completion rate wasn't necessarily due to being under pressure.
Bowling Green did have some success running the ball, finishing with 139 yards on 43 carries (4.3 ypc). It was a committee approach, as McDonald and Trevon Raymore tied for the team lead with 41 rushing yards while Andrew Clair got the most attempts with 12 (gained 37 yards with them) and Bryson Denley also saw double-digit carries (10 for 20 yards).
Whoever gets the ball will be trying to gain ground against a Kent State defense that clamped down on Eastern Michigan's running game, holding the Eagles to a meager 1.9 yards per carry. The Golden Flashes also got after EMU quarterback Preston Hutchinson, sacking him five times and intercepting him twice, so McDonald needs to take what the defense gives him, hit the open receiver, and not hang on to the ball too long or it will be another long night. Linebackers Kesean Gamble and Mandela Lawrence-Burke had two sacks apiece for Kent State and will be looking to add to their total.
The ugly season opener for Bowling Green was a reminder of how substantial a rebuilding job that head coach Scot Loeffler has ahead of him. Kent State has the good fortune of having a talented quarterback in Dustin Crum and an equally talented wide receiver in Isaiah McKoy. That combination alone is enough to help the Golden Flashes jump out against the Falcons early and pick up what should be a comfortable road win.
Prediction: Kent State 35, Bowling Green 10
(Isaiah McKoy photo courtesy of Kent State Athletics)