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Miami RedHawks vs. Kent State Golden Flashes football preview

Which 1-3 football team will start their season on the right foot?

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Opening their MAC season at home are the Kent State Golden Flashes (1-3), who are coming off of a disappointing double-overtime loss to Marshall last week in Dix Stadium. KSU takes on the Miami RedHawks (1-3), a team that has dropped three straight games and have yet to win a road contest under Chuck Martin.

Saturday's match-up will feature two teams that are at the bottom of the MAC in total offense but boasts a defense in Kent State that is 8th in the country in yards allowed. The Flashes are putting together a special season on that side of the ball with 14 sacks already this season and have held teams to a 27.4% conversion rate on third down. Terence Waugh has been a disruptive force on the defensive line with 6.5 sacks while Demetrius Monday is tied for 2nd in the league with three interceptions.

The offense for Kent State, meanwhile, hasn't been having as good a season as it has only recorded 328.8 yards per game and a third down conversion rate of 21.13%. Colin Reardon leads the unit with 550 yards with 43.75 completion percentage, five touchdowns, and three interceptions. Reardon has done a good job of spreading the ball around to 15 recievers, with Kris White and Ernest Calhoun each tied for the team lead with nine catches. KSU has been using a running back by committee with Trayion Durham and Nick Holley combining for 99.58 rushing yards per game.

Miami is coming off of a 56-14 drubbing at Western Kentucky, where the 114th team in the nation in yards allowed gave up 569 yards, including 464 yards in the air. The team was unable to force a turnover for the first time this season against the Hilltoppers, as they have forced seven in the first three games. Paul Moses has played well since moving to linebacker, being second on the team in tackles with 32 while having four tackles for loss and three sacks. Heath Harding has missed the last two games due to injury, and time will tell if he's able to go and provide a much-needed boost to the secondary.

The RedHawk offense has had its moments this season (i.e. the first half against Cincinnati) but struggled mightily against WKU where it only mustered 291 yards and 15 first downs. The three quarterbacks never were able to establish themselves, going 15/28 for 168 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Chris Hudson had another strong showing with four catches for 64 yards and a score while the running game had its issues against WKU to the tune of 3.1 yards per carry.

For the Flashes, the 10.5 point favorites, to win on Saturday, they have to take the run away from the RedHawks and make them one-dimensional on offense while being able to push the ball down the field against a defense that allowed 11 yards per attempt. If Miami is to pull off the upset, it has to find success on the ground as Kent State gave up 100+ rushing yards in each of their three losses. Defensively, the 'Hawks need to limit the running game of KSU and force Reardon to make throws against tight coverage.

Saturday is a key match-up in the MAC East as these two teams have a way to go to usurp the top teams in the division. With Ohio at Akron, FIU at UMass, and Bowling Green at Buffalo on the weekend's docket, one of these teams have a chance to get off to a fast start in the division race. Miami would have a huge advantage with their schedule if it were to win Saturday, as it doesn't have to play the Falcons this year, even though Kent State gets BGSU at home on October 24.