Kent State travels to Western Michigan on Saturday to take on the Broncos for the first time since 2017. In a game that could be a preview of the conference championship game in December, Western Michigan looks to get back on track after a disappointing 45-20 home loss to Ball State last week. Kent State seems to have gotten its offense on track last week in a back and forth affair with Buffalo, with the Flashes amassing 633 yards of total offense on the way to a 48-38 victory.
- Time and Date: 3:30 PM, Saturday, October 16, 2021
- Network: ESPNU
- Location: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI
- Spread/Total: Western Michigan -6.5, O/U 64.5
- Last Meeting: November 8, 2017 – Western Michigan 48, Kent State 20
- All-time series: Western Michigan leads, 35-20-1
Offensive Points Per Game:
· Kent State: 28.0 (t-4th in the MAC)
· Western Michigan: 25.5 (7th in the MAC)
Defensive Points Per Game:
· Kent State: 29.3 (9th)
· Western Michigan: 25.5 (5th)
Yards Per Game:
· Kent State: 464.2 (1st)
· Western Michigan: 403.5 (4th)
Yards Allowed Per Game:
· Kent State: 449.0 (12th)
· Western Michigan: 315.3 (2nd)
Kent State Players to Watch
WR Dante Cephas: The sophomore wide receiver from Pittsburgh has really come on strong in the past three weeks. Cephas torched the Buffalo secondary for 13 catches, 186 yards, and three TD’s last week, and has amassed 29 catches for 391 yards and four scores in the Golden Flashes last three games. He currently ranks fourth in the MAC in receiving yards at 484. On a team with a number of talented wide receivers (Keshunn Abrum and Nykeim Johnson are lethal) Cephas has emerged as QB Dustin Crum’s favorite target. Speaking of the quarterback position…
QB Dustin Crum: The 2020 first team all-MAC signal caller seemed to find his stride last week against Buffalo, finishing 22-of-36 for 407 yards and three scores in what was his first 400 yard game of his career. Crum had a slow start to the season, though much of that can be attributed to the Golden Flashes incredibly tough non-conference schedule, which included trips to Texas A&M, Iowa, and Maryland. Crum is also a legitimate dual threat and is the Flashes second leading rusher, with 71 carries for 283 yards and two scores on the year. Western Michigan has faced good quarterbacks in Ball State’s Drew Plitt, San Jose State’s Nick Starkel, and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, but none of those three present a dual threat like Crum does.
Western Michigan Players to Watch
QB Kaleb Eleby: Eleby had a rare off week last week against Ball State, completing 19-of-33 passes for 257 yards and two interceptions. Eleby had only thrown five career interceptions entering the game, but the relentless pressure from the Ball State front seven caused the normally efficient signal caller all kinds of problems. Eleby still leads the MAC in passing yards at 1,438 and is completing 61.8 percent of his passes along with nine scores and two interceptions. Eleby should be able to right the ship this week, as the Golden Flashes are giving up 255.7 yards per game through the air. That number is good for 11th in the MAC and 101st naturally.
RB La’Darius Jefferson: A second team all-MAC performer last season, Jefferson is the Broncos leading rusher with 435 yards and eight scores on 106 carries. His eight rushing touchdowns are first in the conference, and he has been a consistent performer despite the up and down nature of the Broncos run game this year. If there is a week where Jefferson can break out, this is it. The Golden Flashes boast the 107th ranked rush defense in the FBS, giving up 193.3 yards per game on the ground.
Where They Stand
Western Michigan entered last weeks game with Ball State on a four game win streak, but their momentum was promptly halted by the 45-20 loss. One bad game does not a bad season make, and many of the issues that plagued the Broncos last week are fixable. Notably, they need to do a better job of protecting Eleby, who was sacked four times against the Cardinals. Western had only given the ball away once all season prior to last week, and the four giveaways last Saturday are an exception to their norm. If the Broncos can protect Eleby and avoid turnovers, they will give themselves a chance. All of the Broncos goals (read: getting to Ford Field) are still in front of them.
Kent State struggled through the aforementioned non-conference schedule, going 1-3 against stiff competition. The Flashes have found their footing in conference play, currently sitting at 2-0 atop the East division. The defense has done a great job at creating turnovers but hasn’t had a ton of success elsewhere, and the offense is the driver of the bus here. Dustin Crum and company seemed to hit their stride last week, and the Flashes will establish themselves as the favorite to win the conference if they can pick up a road win this week in Kalamazoo.