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2018 MAC Football Preview: Kent State Golden Flashes @ Illinois Fighting Illini

In a way, it’s a big game

Kent State v Louisville Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Kent State Golden Flashes vising Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini could be the most exciting game of the opening week of college football. Why? Because it is really hard to predict what is going to happen. Also, but teams have had their recent struggles, and could really play all out for the rare chance at a W.

Game Details

  • Who: Kent State Golden Flashes @ Illinois Fightin Illini
  • What: 2018 football season opener for both
  • When: Saturday, Sept. 1st, Noon EST
  • Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois
  • Watch: Big Ten Network
  • Stream: BTN2Go
  • Listen: Kent State Flashes radio on Iheart
  • Line: Illinois -16, per Vegas Insider

When Kent State has the ball

IDK. The Golden Flashes have a new head coach that is an offensive prodigy. They were terrible last season, so it’s not unreasonable to thing they could make a huge leap. Woody Barrett has not been named the starter, but the former 4 star recruit and Auburn transfer could certainly make things interesting. Dustin Crum could also be the starter, that hasn’t been announced as of this writing. My guess is we will see both.

With solid QB play, Justin Rankin could do even better making plays at the running back position, while the receivers, who didn’t have a lot of good balls thrown their way, could also show improvement.

On the other side of the ball, the Illini were not terrible on defense last season, and played a lot of young players that are still young this year.

Don’t be shocked if Kent State struggles to move the ball, but makes some big plays. At least that is my prediction, which really doesn’t mean all that much.

When the Illini have the ball

Last season, Kent State was actually half way decent on defense, considering the lack of help they got from the offensive side of the ball. They fell off the map at the end of the season, but I think that was because of frustration more than anything.

This season, the new head coach is an offensive guy, and from best I can tell, the players loved their former coach. However, that former coach actually did put some talent on that side of the ball, and they could actually be solid again this year, with offensive help!

The Illini were terrible on the offensive side of the ball. They’ve made some changes that could lead to better QB play and all that jazz, too. I think they, too, will struggle to move the ball.


16 seems like a lot of points to me, when I am not sure the two teams will score that much combined. Of course, I am not sure the two offenses wont be off to the races. My gut tells me this will be a close game with both teams in the 20s. Look for Illinois to win 28-21, with some flashes of good football that should get both fan bases excited. I do believe both teams will be improved. Probably not bowl eligible improved, but this season wont be the absolute misery of years gone by.