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2017 MAC Football Preview: Kent State at Ohio

The Flashes will look to strike at Peden Stadium Saturday

NCAA Football: Ohio at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Kent State has not had a winning record in conference play since 2012 when they went 8-0. They’re next challenge in this year’s attempt to conquer that feat will be in Athens when they take on Ohio at Peden Stadium on Saturday, October 21, 2017. Ohio will come in off a 48-30 win at Bowling Green while Kent State scraped by Miami, 17-14.

One could argue that Kent State (2-5, 1-2 MAC) has played a fairly tough schedule as they’ve had to travel to Louisville, Clemson, Marshall, and Northern Illinois. The Golden Flashes lost those games by a combined score of 143-22, and their offense has just not found their rhythm. Against an Ohio team that’s given up 1,088 yards in their three conference games for an average of 363, Kent State will look to get their offense going.

Ohio (5-2, 2-1 MAC) will come into the matchup off a 48-30 win over Bowling Green on the road, a game that Bowling Green was able to keep close until allowing Ohio 21 points in the fourth quarter. Their losses have come at the hands of Purdue and Central Michigan, but the Bobcats did not go down without a fight in those ones. In the win over the Falcons, Ohio gained 440 total yards of offense, but 335 of those came on the ground. Against a Kent State defense that’s given up 548 rush yards on the ground in their three conference games, look for the Bobcats to keep pounding the ball on Saturday.

Players to Watch

Nathan Rourke, Ohio- Rourke is coming off a week in which he earned himself the MAC East Player of the Week award after rushing for 143 yards and three touchdowns on eight attempts. Rourke earned the recognition despite throwing 15 incompletions and two interceptions, but he’s a prime example of how the run game can be just as vital to a quarterback’s game as the pass game. Kent State gave up 161 yards on 34 attempts in their win over Miami last week, but this shouldn’t stop Rourke from having another standout game.

Mandela Lawrence-Burke, Kent State- Although he did not start his first college game on defense until Kent State beat Howard earlier this year, the sophomore Safety out of Steubenville, Ohio, has earned his minutes over the last couple weeks. Lawrence-Burke got his feet wet against Northern Illinois when he made seven total tackles with one tackle for loss for eight yards. In the win over Miami, he recorded six solo tackles and was in on 11 total plays. He’s destined to keep this up, so keep an eye on the Golden Flashes secondary for number 28.

Game Information

Where: Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio.

When: Saturday, October 21, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. EST.

How to Follow Along: ESPN3, @OhioFootball and @KentStFootball on Twitter.