This Saturday, the Toledo Rockets host the Kent State Golden Flashes in this weekend’s match-up of premier MAC defenses.
Toledo is coming into the game with a 4-0(1-0) record and ranked 24th in this week’s AP poll, their first time being ranked since 2012. Kent St. is coming off a rebound win against MAC foe Miami, giving them a 2-3(1-0) record on the season. While the defensive side of the ball is why people are excited about this match-up, it’s been a different kind of defense for each team. Let’s see some statistics to show you what I mean.
Kent State's Defensive Ranks: 6th in YPG and 72nd in PPG allowed
Toledo's Defensive Ranks: 57th in YPG and 9th in PPG allowed
It's literally the exact opposite, which could mean a couple of things are in play: special teams and offense. Is the special teams for Kent St. giving up big plays? Does the Golden Flash offense turn the ball over in their own territory? Those are just two simple reasons as to why those stats are the way they are. Same goes for Toledo, but switched around. Maybe the special teams is great and offense doesn't turn the ball over, but the defense gives up big plays or sustained drives.
To say that Kent State has a top 10 defense is nice and all, but what team did they play that really could have unloaded offensively on them? When you take the teams Kent St. has played this season and average their YPG, comes out to 319 yards/game. That would rank 120th in the nation out of 128 teams. I am not saying that Toledo will be that team - I mean they definitely have the potential, especially since Kareem Hunt should be coming back this week.
To be honest though, they might not even need Hunt to beat Kent State. The trio of Damion Jones-Moore, Terry Swanson, and Marc Remy have been efficient and reliable. As for Kent St., the key guy on offense has got to be Antwan Dixon. He’s just a freshman, but he’s got speed. With a couple of touchdowns the last two weekends, he showed off his skill on a reverse against Miami, in which he took the pitch and scooted 75 yards for the score.
It’s going to be difficult, however, for Kent St. on offense. They bring a decent rushing game into the Glass Bowl, but a god awful passing game, which plays right into Toledo’s defensive scheme. Toledo only gives up 80.5 YPG on the ground. So if Kent St. wants to pull off the upset Saturday, quarterback Colin Reardon will need to lead the offense and throw the ball around.
This brings us to the offensive ranks.
Kent St. Offensive Ranks: 119th in YPG and 116th in PPG
Toledo's Offensive Ranks: 83rd in YPG and 82nd in PPG
WOW! Those ranks are pretty close and are definitely correlated without a doubt. But this game will be an offensive struggle and low scoring? Yes and no. I've watched Toledo play every game this year. Their defense is for real. Kent St. still needs to show me something to prove their defense can win them games. I watched the Minnesota game and it was horrendous. If not for three turnovers and a defensive touchdown, they wouldn't have kept it close or scored a point. And somehow, Kent St. had multiple opportunities to tie the game up or even win the game late in the 4th quarter.
It just seems to me that Kent St. does not have the offense necessary to compete with Toledo. If it weren't for a late interception, Miami may have beaten beat Kent St. in last weekend’s game. They had all the momentum for the game-winning drive. People are saying Kent St. could be 4-1 right now. Yes, this is true, but they could also be 1-4 right now. Kent St. doesn’t have an offense whatsoever. That's been the difference this year. No matter the outcome in Toledo on Saturday, we all win because #MACtion.