Kent State (3-1) at Eastern Michigan (0-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 1:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Kent State 2-0, Eastern Michigan 0-1 Away Record: Kent State 1-1, Eastern Michigan 0-3. Neutral Record: Kent State 0-0, Eastern Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Kent State 2-0, Eastern Michigan 0-1. Series Record: Kent State leads 16-13.
GAME NOTES: The current leader in the Mid-American Conference East Division hits the road, when the Kent State Golden Flashes land in Rynearson Stadium to battle with the winless Eastern Michigan Eagles.
Kent State has gotten out to a 3-1 overall start and a perfect 2-0 mark in league play. The Golden Flashes' most recent victory came in thrilling fashion as they topped Ball State 45-43 on a 25-yard field goal with just six seconds remaining in regulation. Kent State drove the ball 86 yards in less than two minutes to set up that game winning kick. The win was the second straight for the Golden Flashes.
On the other side, Eastern Michigan has not been so fortunate, dropping each of its first four games, including its one and only conference matchup. The Eagles have now lost six straight games dating back to last season. The Eagles were off this past weekend after being downed 23-7 by then No. 20 Michigan State in a matchup of squads from the Great Lakes State.
This will be the 30th all-time matchup between these programs. Kent State has held the edge in the series up to this point with wins in 16 of the previous 29 meetings. Kent State defeated Eastern Michigan last season 28-22 to begin the Eagles' current losing streak.
Despite its strong record, Kent State has been a rather average offensive team posting 385.3 yards per game, which ranks just 10th in the MAC. The Golden Flashes have also been a less than stellar team in the red zone, converting on only 68.4 percent of their attempts, the third worst mark in the MAC.
Thus far those struggles have not kept Darrell Hazel's squad off the scoreboard with the team averaging a respectable 30.8 points per game behind the arm of Spencer Keith and the backfield duo of Trayion Durham and Dri Archer.
Durham (344) and Archer (331) have each rushed for over 300 yards this season while averaging more than 82 yards per game on the ground. Archer is a bit more explosive with a team-best average of 8.7 yards per carry and four touchdowns. Archer is also a weapon in the passing game, ranking third on the team in receptions (10) and second in receiving yards (173), while pulling in two of only four passing touchdowns by Kent State this season. The pair rank seventh and eighth, respectively in the conference in rushing.
Keith has not been a prolific passer this season but has been serviceable, completing 55.6 percent of his pass attempts for 676 yards and only one interception to three touchdown passes. In the win over Ball State, Keith showed he could put up numbers with a season-high in passing yards (295) and all three of his touchdown passes. Keith has been able to accomplish those numbers while being sacked (13) more times than any other player in the MAC.
As a team Kent State has been out-gained by its opponents this season by surrendering 423.3 yards of total offense per game. With that many yards allowed the margin between points scored and points allowed (29.5 ppg) has been razor thin, although that is largely due to the 43 points surrendered to Ball State.
The Golden Flashes have been able to keep opponents at bay by creating turnovers at a high rate. This season Kent State has produced 11 turnovers, which is second in the MAC. Darius Polk and Luke Wollet have each collected a pair of interceptions while Luke Batton leads the team with 37 tackles. Roosevelt Nix has collected six tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.
Offense has not been a strength of Eastern Michigan. The Eagles are the worst team in the MAC in total offense (277.5 ypg) and the second worst in scoring (15.8 ppg) ahead of only Massachusetts. The Eagles have been shut out in both the first and third quarter all season and have been outscored by its opponents by a 145-63 margin
After Alex Gillett struggled in his three starts, the Eagles moved to Tyler Benz against Michigan State. Benz completed only 45 percent of his pass attempts but did not turn the ball over, something Gillett struggled with, throwing six interceptions in three games. Garrett Hoskins has been reliable for whoever has been throwing to him. Hoskins has more than twice as many receptions (16) than any other player on the team and is the only player with more than 100 receiving yards (208). In the running game Javonti Green (159 yards) and Dominique Sherrer (132) have been the most productive backs.
The Eagles' defense has been just as bad, surrendering 492.8 yards and 36.3 points per game. Those numbers are marginally better than the offense in the MAC rankings but have still not been as successful as the Eagles' need to pick up wins. Part of the issue is that the Eagles have been unable to create much pressure on opposing quarterbacks with only four sacks this season. Donald Coleman is the team leader with 43 total tackles, while Kalonji Kashama has been the best pass rusher with two sacks.
This is the homecoming game for Eastern Michigan but even that type of homefield advantage can't improve the team's struggling offense and porous defense. Kent State on the other hand is an opportunistic team with its eye on challenging conference favorite Ohio for the league crown. This will be another step in that direction.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 29, Eastern Michigan 22
10/03 10:39:38 ET