Still smarting from a pair of home losses in the final quarter, the Kent State Golden Flashes (0-2, 0-1 MAC) will make its first road trip this season to the Horseshoe in Columbus to take on No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-1, 0-0 Big 10) Saturday.
This will be Golden Flashes' head coach Paul Haynes' first official trip back to Ohio Stadium, after serving on Ohio State's staff for seven seasons. The Golden Flashes, losing last week to the South Alabama Jaguars 23-13, will face a Buckeye team (1-1) eager to save face after a 35-21 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies last week.
The Golden Flashes, with an S&P+ ranking of 128, have not fared well against Big 10 teams, with an overall record of 1-12. The Flashes are 0-2 against the Buckeyes all-time, taking a 51-17 loss in 2002 and a 48-3 lost in 2007. Saturday's game could be more of the same.
Statistically, Kent State's offense is weak, with an FEI ranking of 90. But there are some bright sides to the team. The Flashes' offense converted eight of its last 12 third down attempts against South Alabama last weak, and its pass defense ranks fifth of 13 teams in the MAC after holding South Alabama to just 30 yards passing in the second half.
The Golden Flashes may adopt the Hokie approach to defending the Buckeyes: blitz on 81 percent of plays and 79% of dropbacks, play man coverage outside with more defenders inside the box to stuff the run (where the Hokies kept the Buckeyes to just 42 yards on 14 runs inside the tackles).
"We have to do a better job of stopping the run," Haynes said at his weekly press conference. "To keep them from under 100 yards is probably unrealistic in this day and age."
The Buckeyes are a considered a 32 point underdog by Vegas, so beating the spread and keeping the game somewhat competitive would be a moral victory of sorts for a team that's off to a rough start to the 2014 season.