If you were hoping for Kent State to roll into State College and roll out with a win, you are disappointed tonight. Penn State triumphed 33-13, handing Kent State its 6th straight loss dating back to last season, but today wasn’t all bad for the Golden Flashes.
As has been the refrain for much of the offseason, Kent State’s defense was the known quantity, and today they certainly lived up to their top billing. Knock out the garbage touchdown that PSU scored with under two minutes to go, and this was a 13 point margin after being back and forth for most of the afternoon.
Penn State’s offense was held to 354 total yards and generally just looked mediocre for most of the afternoon. Some in the post game reaction hivemind have thought that was because of a lackluster desire to really show up against a MAC opponent, but combine a lackadaisical approach with a stalwart defense and strange things happen. Strange things like Kent State only trailing by three at the half and hanging around long enough to give MACtion fans hope on the first Saturday of the season.
The overall Golden Flashes approach today was something that fans had better get used to, in that their wins will be efforts when the offense does just enough for the defense to thrive. If the offense digs a hole, like the three turnovers given up today, then the defense, even in all its glory and skill, will have its back to the wall against high powered MAC offenses as the season continues.
Freshman running back Justin Rankin picked up 82 yards on 13 attempts and was one of the lone bright spots for the Flashes. If I was producing a gameplan going forward, he would be a critical piece of it. Long sustained drives give that defense time to catch its breath. Those are easier said than done, as six of their drives on Saturday were 3 plays or fewer. That’s not ideal.
So, Kent State finishes their Saturday about the way they started it. They know their defense is solid, their offense needs work, and how that balance shakes itself out in each game going forward will mean the difference between a season worth remembering or another one to forget.