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2023 MAC Football Week 11 Preview: Bowling Green Falcons at Kent State Golden Flashes

Bowling Green looks to become bowl eligible, while Kent State looks for any sort of positive outcome

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kent State Golden Flashes (1-8, 0-4 MAC) host the Bowling Green Falcons (5-4, 3-2 MAC) for both teams’ next weeknight tilt, as KSU looks to erase the memory of a bitter rivalry game loss by winning a different trophy.

Bowling Green is riding a three-game win streak as they seek to continue pace in the MAC East race (and get a lot of help along the way), while Kent State looks for their first victory against an FBS opponent.

Game notes

  • Time and date: Wednesday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Network: CBS Sports Network
  • Location: Dix Stadium, Kent, Ohio
  • Gambling considerations: Bowling Green favored by -7.5, with an over/under of 41, per DraftKings
  • All-time series: Bowling Green leads the overall series with a 60-24-6 record. Both teams have split the last 10 contests, with Kent State having won five in a row.
  • Last Meeting: Kent State blew the doors off an off-kilter Bowling Green squad with a 40-6 result on Nov. 9, 2022.

What Happened Last Time?

Kent State traveled to Bowling Green for a midweek MACtion game. Kent State scored the first 23 points of the game and 17 unanswered to end the game to take a blowout victory on the road— though Bowling Green did get touchdown late in the third quarter.

Bowling Green Falcons outlook

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Georgia Tech Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons are in the same scenario as last year. Start the season off at 2-4, then win three straight games to go 5-4. Bowling Green can clinch bowl eligibility on Wednesday night.

The biggest question Bowling Green needs an answer to is whether not Terion Stewart is healthy. He left the Ball State game with assistance from the trainers, unable to put weight on his right foot and was initially diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. Stewart is likely a game-time decision, with Scot Loeffler noting in his weekly presser “we would miss him” if he couldn’t play. The Falcons are still trying to produce a higher rushing totals, but it’ll be interesting how much they keep going up if Stewart can’t go. Ta’Ron Keith has proven to be an excellent receiver out of the backfield, but that would upend their typical gameplan if they leaned on that too much.

As mentioned after last game, the QB room got off to a much better start, but still need that breakout game. Bazelak had two passing touchdowns, bringing him to seven on the year with 1,023 passing yards. Harold Fannin Jr. leads all receivers with 293 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Falcons went 4-of-13 on third-down attempts last game. That is something they’ll need to work on for the rest of the season.

The defense will look to bounce back after allowing 217 rushing yards to Ball State. The Falcons still lead FBS in takeaways with 22. Cashius Howell leads the defense with 5.5 sacks. Jalen Huskey sets the pace with four interceptions in the defensive backfield.

Kent State Golden Flashes outlook

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kent State is having a complete rebuild season under first-year head coach Kenni Burns. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to their rival Zips, the Flashes have been outscored 295-127.

Who does Kent State start at QB? Tommy Ulatowski is coming off of a breakout game against Akron despite the loss. He went 15-of-23 for 229 yards and three passing touchdowns, while also picking up a rushing score. Michael Alaimo saw a lot of time to start the year. 932 passing yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Flashes have a two headed rushing attack. Gavin Garcia has 407 yards on 104 carries with two touchdowns. Jaylen Thomas has 341 yards on 94 carries, with one touchdown.

Kent State’s receiving corps is led by Chrishon McCray. He has 610 yards (1st in MAC) and four touchdowns.

The Flashes defense allows 224.1 passing yards/game (ninth in MAC) and 153.3 rushing yards/game (ninth in MAC). Safety Bryce Sheppert leads in total tackles with 54, with linebacker Devin Nicholson right behind him at 53. CJ West and CJ Harris lead with two sacks, and five players have recorded an interception.

Game Outlook

What is the one big question for each team?

Who steps up for the Falcons? As mentioned previously, Ta’Ron Keith and Jaison Patterson were mainstays in the running game last year. More reps for those guys will help short term. Ultimately, the quarterbacks still need that breakout game. This is another opportunity for them to build confidence.

Kent State undoubtedly has a lot of questions. How can they build off the positives despite losing the wagon wheel? Tommy Ulatowski is ultimately going to be that stepping stone. After what we saw against Akron, the Flashes may have to utilize him against a stout Bowling Green defense.