Get to know an opponent: Kent State

Bulls travel to Kent to take on Golden Flashes

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Coming off a 43-14 victory over Eastern Michigan, the Bulls will travel to Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio to take on Kent State University Thursday.

The Golden Flashes are 3-6 following a 35-33 loss to Toledo.

Kent State went 1-3 in non-conference play, with losses to Arizona State, No. 13 Auburn and No. 15 Wisconsin and a win over Kennesaw State. The Golden Flashes were projected to finish fourth in the MAC East, according to the 2019 Mid-American Conference Media Preseason Poll.

Buffalo is on a three-game winning streak. The Bulls, once dead in the water, trail Miami (OH) by just one game for the division lead, with three games to go in the season. The Bulls need one more win to qualify for a bowl game.

Buffalo is 5-4 entering the Kent State game. The Bulls defeated Robert Morris, Temple, Akron, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. They lost to Penn State, Liberty, Miami (OH) and Ohio so far this season.

Here’s what to expect when the Bulls take on the Golden Flashes Thursday:

COACH: Sean Lewis, 5-16, second season at Kent State

LOOKING BACK

The 2018 Golden Flashes went 2-10 and finished at the bottom of the MAC East standings.

Quarterback Woody Barrett completed 58.7% of his passes for 2,339 yards, 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also rushed for 503 yards and 7 scores. He ranked fifth in the MAC in total offense and broke the school single-season record for completions.

Barrett developed a rapport with wideout Mike Carrigan, who caught 45 passes for 597 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also found consistency with wide receiver Antwan Dixon, who hauled in 52 passes for 532 yards and 2 scores.

The Golden Flashes averaged 372.1 yards per game, ranking at No. 88 in Division I-A.

Kent State had just two All-MAC selections, including kicker Matt Trickett and down lineman Kalil Morris.

On the other side of the ball, safety/linebacker Matt Bahr led the way with 91 total tackles and 3 sacks. His final stats mirrored that of cornerback KJ Sherald, who finished with 91 total tackles and 3 sacks.

Morris was named second-team All-MAC after recording 47 tackles, including 6 for loss. He became one of the most feared nose tackles in the entire conference in his senior year.

Kent State allowed 32.4 points per game, ranking No. 92 in Division I-A.

Trickett made 14-of-17 field goals with a long of 49 yards. He also punted an average of 38.7 yards per punt.

On Nov. 6, 2018, the Bulls defeated the Golden Flashes, 48-14, at UB Stadium. Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson rushed for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bulls quarterback Tyree Jackson was limited to 111 yards and a touchdown, but the defense was strong enough to compensate for the lack of a passing game.

LOOKING FORWARD

Kent State has only two wins, with one coming against Division I-B opponent Kennesaw State.

Quarterback Dustin Crum has completed 68.1% of his passes for 1,605 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and an interception. He also leads the team with 414 rushing yards on 106 carries for 2 touchdowns. On Monday, he was named the MAC East Offensive Player of the Week after going 14-of-18 with 257 yards and 3 touchdowns on Tuesday. He added 40 yards rushing and a touchdown in a 35-33 loss to Toledo.

Kent State had 10 players named to the Athlon Sports MAC Football 2019 All-Conference Team, including cornerback Jamal Parker and Carrigan.

Coming into the Buffalo game, the Flashes have lost three games by 20 or more. Kent State lost to No. 13 Auburn, No. 15 Wisconsin and Arizona State.

The Golden Flashes are 2-3 against conference opponents, and currently trail MAC East leader Miami (OH) by one game, with just three games left to play.

BOTTOM LINE

With three games remaining for both teams, Thursday night’s contest at Dix Stadium is shaping up to be one of the biggest of the season. The Golden Flashes need a win, or their bowl hopes are over. On the other sideline, Buffalo is riding a three-game winning streak, in large part because of its rushing defense, which ranks No. 6 in Division I-A. Both teams should come out with fire — bowl appearances are riding on this game.

Justin Weiss is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at Justin.Weiss@ubspectrum.com.

JUSTIN WEISS


Justin Weiss is an asst. sports editor at The Spectrum