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2018 MAC Football Game Preview: Ohio Bobcats at Kent State Golden Flashes

The ‘Cats and the Flashes meet up as each team looks for its first MAC win of 2018.

Ohio v Cincinnati Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

We have another great match-up in the land of #MACtion Saturday as the Kent State Golden Flashes (1-4, 0-1 MAC) host the Ohio Bobcats (2-2) on their Homecoming. Kent State had a brutal start to the season with losses at Illinois, Penn State, and Ole Miss before getting pummeled on the road 52-24 at Ball State. Meanwhile, it’s hard to tell how good Ohio really is with its wins being rather unconvincing (38-32 over FCS Howard, 58-42 over UMass).

The offenses for both teams have been highly productive as they’re top five in the MAC in yardages (Ohio third with 465.8 yard per game, KSU fifth with 407.2 yards per game). Nathan Rourke leads a Bobcat offense that is second in the league in scoring with 39.2 points per game as the dual-threat quarterback and Maleek Irons have powered the number-one rushing offense in the MAC to 223 rushing yards per game. The passing game for the Green and White is efficient and explosive as the offense is tied for the fewest interceptions in the league with two while Papi White is second in the conference with 17.8 yards per reception.

Meanwhile, Kent State has a similar sense of balance with Justin Rankin averaging 5.5 yards per carry while Woody Barrett is fifth in the MAC with 1,140 yards through the air. However, KSU has some room for improvement with a -2 turnover margin on the season, a 33.3% conversion rate on third down, and a mind-boggling 22 sacks allowed this season.

Defensively, it has been a much different story for Ohio and Kent State in 2018 as they are 10th and 11th in scoring defense and 11th and 12th in total defense. The good news for the ‘Cats is that they are third in the league with 131.2 rushing yards allowed per game despite nearly giving up 400 passing yards per game. KSU is tied for second in the MAC with 12 sacks and both teams have been opportunistic with nine takeaways on the young season. Ohio’s defense has not been good on third down as teams have converted on 55.4% of their opportunities, the highest rate in the MAC.

Ohio has a pretty dramatic edge in the punting game as it has 40.5 net yards per punt while KSU has registered 31.5 net yards per punt. The teams are nearly identical in all the other special teams, so tilting the field position in their favor can be a huge advantage for the Bobcats.

This game will feature a ton of offense in true #MACtion fashion with how the offenses (and defenses) have performed up to this point. I think it’ll be hard for the undersized Flashes defense to contain Ohio’s ground game, and KSU should have a lot of success in the air against OU. The game is going to come down to defense and special teams, and Ohio has the edge in both. 38-27 Bobcats.