The college football schedule gets started a little earlier than usual this week with a MAC game between the Kent State Golden Flashes and Toledo Rockets. Game time is set for 7:00 EST on Tuesday, November 5 at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Current odds list the Rockets as 7-point favorites at home with an over/under of 61 points. Click here to see a full list of the Week 11 college football betting odds.
This has been a bit of a down season for Toledo, at least by their standards. They have already lost two conference games midway through the MAC schedule despite usually being one of the league’s best teams. After starting the season 4-1 with wins over BYU and Western Michigan, the Rockets have lost two of their last three games and needed overtime to get past Eastern Michigan in their last game, a rough stretch that’s likely related to the injury to starting quarterback Mitchell Guadagni.
On the bright side, Toledo is 5-3 and should be able to win a game or two down the stretch and qualify for their ninth bowl game in the last 10 years. However, the Rockets are going to need a little help to win the MAC West division. That means Toledo must take care of their own business first, starting with Tuesday’s home game against Kent State.
The Golden Flashes remain a work in progress under second-year head coach Sean Lewis. But Kent State is undoubtedly moving in the right direction. After going 2-10 and 1-7 in MAC play last year, the Golden Flashes already have three wins on the season and two in league play. Considering they’ve played Arizona State, Auburn, and Wisconsin this year, a 3-5 record isn’t half bad.
However, the Golden Flashes have come up short in their last two games, losing to both Ohio and Miami (Ohio) by seven points. Kent State needs to win three of their last four games to have any chance of reaching their first bowl game since 2012. But even getting another win or two this season would be a big step forward for Kent State, especially if it came against a MAC powerhouse like Toledo.
The Golden Flashes have beaten Toledo since 2006. In fairness, these two programs have only played four times since then. However, the Rockets had a comfortable 56-34 win last season over the Golden Flashes, who haven’t won a game in Toledo since 1977.
Given the history between these two programs and the fact that Kent State is still rebuilding, a win probably isn’t in the cards for the Golden Flashes. I’m not sure that Kent State will be able to keep this game competitive either. Their two wins in conference play this year have come against Bowling Green and Akron, who are a combined 3-15 this season. Despite Toledo’s four wins against FBS teams this year coming by no more than seven points, I think the Rockets are head and shoulders better than the Golden Flashes. I’ll take my chances with Toledo winning comfortably and beating the spread.
As mentioned, the Rockets have struggled a little since losing Guadagni to injury. Backup Carter Bradley is also hurt and unlikely to play. However, Eli Peters started against Eastern Michigan and managed the game well, throwing two touchdowns and leading the Rockets to a win. He actually started for a large chunk of the 2018 season, throwing for over 1,800 yards and 18 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions. Peters has far more experience than most third-string quarterbacks, so Toledo is in good hands.
More importantly, the Rockets can lean on their running game to help support Peters. Sophomore running back Bryant Koback is just a few yards shy of 1,000 on the season and is averaging better than six yards per carry. He was unstoppable in wins over Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan, so I’m expecting the Rockets to feed him the ball until Kent State proves they can stop him.
Stopping the run has been a problem for the Golden Flashes this year. They are near the bottom nationally in rushing yards allowed per game. Keep in mind they’ve played Arizona State, Auburn, and Wisconsin, so those stats are a little skewed. However, both Ohio and Miami (Ohio) have run rampant against Kent State in recent weeks, which makes me think Koback and Toledo can do the same.
Offensively, Kent State is capable of getting their up-tempo offense going and putting a lot of points on the board. Quarterback Dustin Crum has 10 touchdown passes to just one interception on the season. However, Crum is also the team’s leading rusher, as Kent State’s actual running backs have struggled to create big plays. If the defense doesn’t do enough to help, it might be asking too much of Crum to keep up in a shootout.
All things considered, I don’t trust the Kent State defense enough to keep the Golden Flashes within a touchdown. Toledo has a strong running game and a more than capable backup quarterback, so I’m expecting them to do some damage offensively. Kent State should hang around for a half, but it’ll be tough keeping this game close on the road. I like the Rockets to pull away late and cover the 7-point spread.