The Kent State Golden Flashes play their third game in a streak of five consecutive games in the state of Ohio against the Toledo Rockets this Saturday. The first four weeks of the season sent them roughly 8,000 round trip miles to Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia. Staying close to home is surely welcomed.
The Rockets and the Flashes both have offenses that feature mobile quarterbacks in a game that could get points. The two quarterbacks are first and second in rushing yards from a quarterback in the MAC. Toledo’s Dequan Finn holds the slight edge over Colin Schlee by 85 yards.
Kent State is looking for their first road win and Toledo has two big wins over teams that were with Toledo as MAC West favorites. A win for Toledo puts them in control of the MAC West at 3-0 and every West team will have a loss. A Kent State win keeps them in the hunt for the MAC East. The Flashes are not out of the race either way but 7-1 will win the East and 6-2 will need help.
- Time and Date: Saturday, October 15th at 3:30 pm ET
- Network: ESPN+ (A valid subscription is required.)
- Location: The Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio
- All-time series: The Toledo Rockets hold a 27-21 series lead over the Kent State Golden Flashes. The Rockets have won eight of the last nine by an average margin of 23 points.
- Odds: The Toledo Rockets are favored by 7.5 points and the game has an over/under spread of 62 per OddsShark.
The Kent State Golden Flashes through Week 6:
Kent State’s offense is a run first offense, made that way by featuring a mobile quarterback the way that they do. The Flashes have run the ball 263 times so far this season, 57 of those carries belong to quarterback Colin Schlee. Without his rushes, Kent State would average about seven more rushes than passes a game. With his designed runs and scrambles they are 30th in the nation in rushing plays rate.
Schlee has three of the best weapons in the MAC at his disposal this season in running back Marquez Cooper, wide receiver Dante Cephas and wide receiver Devontez Walker.
Cooper leads the MAC in all-purpose yards through six weeks with 809-yards. He’s third in the MAC in rushing yards and returns kickoffs for the Flashes averaging more than 20 yards per return.
Cephas and Walker and first and second in the MAC in receiving yards, with Cephas is the main target. He has 39 catches for 619 yards with three touchdowns. The only receivers that get the ball at a higher rate than Cephas are a pair from Akron, and Akron throws the ball 65 percent of their snaps.
Walker has seven fewer receptions than Cephas but has been just as effective. He’s found the endzone five times and has 512 yards receiving. He’s another critical weapon for the Kent State offense that Toledo will have to account for on every play.
The key for the Kent State offense might be ball security. The Rocket defense, actually Quinyon Mitchell, had four interceptions against Northern Illinois and still gave up 32 points. If Schlee can be more careful than Hampton was last week, they could hit enough big plays to win with the weapons they have on that side of the ball.
Toledo’s defense has struggled to create negative plays so far this season and Kent State’s ground game is going to need to convert that into manageable third downs. Obvious passing situations are where the Rocket defense forces mistakes.
Their average starting field position is the worst in FBS. It’s not something their offense can control and it’s not predictive, but long field against a good defense will be tough for the offense to overcome.
The defense has had it’s struggles in 2022. Their schedule has been a murderer’s row, but SP+ is opponent-adjusted and has them at 124th in defense. Their problems as a unit stem from the inability to set the opponent behind the chains. Their opponents are getting what they want on first and second down, allowing the occasional third downs to be manageable.
Despite the high success rate from their opponents, the front seven has been pretty solid, but boom or bust. Against the run, they boom when they stop the runner within a yard of the line of scrimmage at nearly a top 25 rate. They bust when their opponents complete nearly 68% of their passes on the season.
The Flashes don’t force enough incomplete passes, whether that’s by pressuring the quarterback or knocking passes out of the air. Teams have realized that they can get yards and touchdowns by relying on easy completions to move the ball. If that is the case Saturday, Finn and his two big receivers are going to have good days.
Linebacker Khalib Johns has been their best player with seven tackles for loss, four sacks and two broken up passes. Cornerback Montre Miller has tried to apply the pressure in the passing game with three passes broken up and one interception. Kent State only has two on the season.
The Toledo Rockets through Week 6:
The Rocket’s offense also runs the ball at an impressive clip. Their blueprint is about the same as Kent State’s. Run the ball with the quarterback and stretch the field with a downfield passing attack. Finn leads the Rockets in rushing yards but running back Jacquez Stuart is not far behind.
Toledo’s offense is at it’s best when they are moving the ball in chunks. When they can’t move the ball quickly down the field, their drives can stall out. Kent State can keep big plays in front of them, but they allow easy completions and short gains routinely. The Rockets will probably take advantage of that, but it’s going to be a change for them.
Finn has been the best runner at the quarterback position in the MAC so far this season, an impressive feat considering Aveon Smith from Miami averaged 7.1 yards per carry a week ago. Finn could be just as effective on the ground and more efficient through the air.
Toledo’s top receivers, Jerjuan Newton and Demeer Blankumsee, will be up to the test the Kent State defense presents, provided they play. Blankumsee is the leading receiver by yards and receptions, but didn’t play against NIU. Newton is the big play receiver for the Rockets with one less receiving yard on 11 fewer catches.
The Rockets may not have the opportunities to go downfield in this game, but Finn is more than capable at hitting underneath throws and giving his receivers the chance to make a play. Blankumsee did not play a week ago and there isn’t any indication that he’ll be in or out for this game.
Finn will need to take care of the ball. He has thrown five interceptions and the company he keeps on that leaderboard is not good. The only quarterbacks with more interceptions are Ball State’s John Paddock and NIU’s Ethan Hampton. Hampton threw four last week to earn that spot and Paddock has thrown 110 more passes.
Linebacker Dallas Gant and defensive end Desjuan Johnson have been in the offensive backfield this season. Gant has four tackles for loss, two and a half were last week against NIU, and Johnson has seven and a half.
Cornerback Quinyon Mitchell doubled the Rocket’s interception total by himself and won MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors. If a four interception, two returned for a touchdown performance is repeatable, it will shock the college football world. Kent State probably won’t run out routes to the sideline directly in front of him.
This defense can give up the big play and Kent State can make those happen. If the Rockets can force third and long situations for the Flash offense, they will be in a good position to control the game and get the win.
This game is going to come down to which team can be put favorable situations more often. Kent State has a good offense but will be forced to be one dimensional too often by negative plays. They’ll get their points and hit on some big plays, but Toledo will get more at home.
Finn has a great game mixing in runs and is effective through the air. Kent State has trouble containing the Toledo receivers. Toledo never really pulls away but controls the game.
Kent State 31