It’s a battle of Ohio schools in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division as the Kent State Golden Flashes (3-8, 2-5) take on the Akron Zips (6-5, 4-3) Friday afternoon. Kent State has won four of the last five meetings, including a 27-24 triumph as a 3 point underdog at home on November 28, 2014 in the most recent matchup.
Kent State lost their fourth straight game as they were clipped 27-14 at home by Central Michigan last Wednesday night. Akron has won three straight after rolling over Buffalo 42-21 at home on Saturday to pick up their sixth win of the year. Kickoff from InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio is scheduled for 12:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Akron is currently a 10.5 point favorite in this contest; the winner picks up the Wagon Wheel.
Kent State fell behind 17-0 after one quarter and couldn’t find a way to come back all the way in the contest. The Golden Flashes closed to within 20-14 at the half but were held off the scoreboard in the second half. Kent State was outgained 442-278, gave up 21 first downs while recording 15 and was dominated in the time of possession battle 38:22 to 21:38. The Golden Flashes committed the game’s only two turnovers and even bringing in original starter at quarterback Colin Reardon failed to create much of a spark.
The Golden Flashes have had offensive issues this season as they are 120th in the nation in passing offense (139.3 yards) and currently stand 97th in rushing offense with an average of 143.9 yards per game. Kent State averages 14.3 points per game, which leaves them tied for 122nd in the nation in scoring offense and they are tied for 63rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 26.6 points per contest. It’s unknown who will start at quarterback here as coach Paul Haynes has run two different quarterbacks this season; Colin Reardon (78 of 170, 878 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT) was the starter most of the first half of the year while George Bollas (84 of 139, 654 yards, 2 TD, 6 INT, 275 rushing yards, TD) is the other likely candidate. Bollas got the start in each of the last four games and the redshirt freshman may have the inside track on the job. Trayion Durham is the team’s leading rusher with 120 carries for 418 yards and three scores while Raekwon James (75 carries, 265 yards) and Nick Holley (34 carries, 133 yards) are next in line. Seven players have double digit receptions on the year: James leads the team with 27 receptions for 242 yards while Kris White has 19 catches for 213 yards and P.J. Simmons contributes 16 grabs for 111 yards; Ernest Calhoun has chipped in 15 receptions for 178 yards plus three scores while Antwan Dixon has contributed 26 grabs for a team high 355 yards and a score. Shane Hynes has hit all 13 extra points and seven of 11 field goal attempts this season.
Akron has put together a nice three game win streak as their conference schedule has been more forgiving down the stretch. The Zips led 14-0 after one quarter and didn’t let the Bulls get closer than seven points the rest of the way. Akron outgained Buffalo 475-392, won the first down battle 25-23 and held the ball for 35:25 to the Bulls’ 24:35 in the game. The Zips also forced three Bulls turnovers while not recording a turnover of their own in the contest; two touchdown drives started inside the Buffalo 40 yard line.
The Zips have offensive issues as they average 198.7 yards per game (97th in the nation) through the air and 164.1 yards (76th in the nation) per contest on the ground. Akron is putting up 24.4 points per game (tied for 100th in the nation in scoring offense) on the scoreboard while they are 43rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 23.5 points a game. Three quarterbacks have seen action for the Zips and they’ve been dreadful: they’ve completed 49.2 percent of their passes for 2,186 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while averaging 6.81 yards per pass attempt. Thomas Woodson has seen the majority of the snaps; he’s 137 of 259 for 1,894 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while ranking second on the team with 460 yards plus three scores on the ground. The Zips average 4.1 yards per carry on the ground with Conor Hundley leading the team with 166 carries for 785 yards and nine scores; Donnell Alexander (90 carries, 436 yards, 2 TD) is the second back in the system. Imani Davis (46 receptions, 593 yards, 3 TD) is the team’s leading receiver while Andrew Pratt (15 grabs, 149 yards, TD) is a secondary option; Tyrell Goodman (12 catches, 104 yards, TD) is one of the other two players with more than 10 catches while Jerome Lane (31 grabs, team high 675 yards, 8 TD) is a big play threat. Robert Stein has hit 32 of 34 extra points and 10 of 16 field goal attempts with a long of 50 yards.
Akron is 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up win, 4-1 ATS in their last five after an ATS win, 4-1 ATS in their last five in November, 6-2 ATS in their last eight overall and 5-2 ATS in their last seven conference games. Kent State is 1-5 ATS in their last six after a straight up loss, 1-5 ATS in their last six after an ATS loss, 0-4 ATS in their last four conference games, 0-4 ATS in their last four overall and 0-4 ATS in their last four after scoring less than 20 points in their last game.
The Zips have played well of late while Kent State continues to struggle to pick up victories. While the Golden Flashes have had success in this series of late, it’s tough to like Kent State here, especially with the uncertainty at quarterback in this one. Akron should close the regular season with their fourth straight win as they solidify their resume for a bowl bid.