Last year was a step back for Paul Haynes and his program as they went 2-9 after a 4-8 record the year before. Haynes is entering his third season at the helm and the fanbase is growing restless.
Kent State started off the 2014 campaign in about the worse fashion any team could. They lost their first six games but two were by a combined six points to both Ohio and Northern Illinois. They then shocked Army with a 39-17 win during homecoming. Many thought the season would turn around there but the Flashes then dropped their next three. Buffalo fans probably had more issue with this squad than actual KSU fans. During that infamous Buffalo blizzard the Kent State equipment truck decided to go rouge and try and make it through four feet of snow. This tomfoolery led to the game being canceled and Buffalo's bowl hopes canceled with it. Kent did end the season in style with a Black Friday win over bitter rival Akron.
Colin Reardon will be back behind center but he has a new offensive coordinator in Don Treadwell, who was promoted from the running backs coach. With a new OC and Kent's better play at the end of the season can the Flashes improve their record in 2015? Let's take a look.
More Preseason MAC Football
More Preseason MAC Football
September 5th: at Illinois
While the Illini are the laughing stock of social media and their low attendance relative to the Big Ten, they did go to a bowl game last year, losing in the Cotton Bowl to Louisiana Tech. They lost their starting QB Wes Lunt to a broken leg early in the season so with him back healthy they could be dangerous on offense. The MAC did well against the Big Ten last year but Kent won't get a win for the conference here as they are soundly beat. 0-1
September 12th: Delaware St.
KSU didn't play an FCS school last season so this will definitely help them improve their record. Delaware State went 2-10 in the illustrious MEAC last year and was crushed 59-0 by Temple. Losing this game is not an option for Haynes. 1-1
September 19th: at Minnisota
The Golden Gophers are coming off a third straight bowl season where they went 8-5 (5-3). They do lose star Maxx Williams which could slow them down offensively. But that won't be enough for Kent to pull an upset as traveling into TCF Bank Stadium is always tough. Minnesota lost just one game there last season (to Ohio State). This one won't be that close as the Flashes fall back below .500. 1-2
September 26th: Marshall
Marshall is another team that is coming off a memorable season. Rakeem Cato however is gone and it remains to be seen how Marshall is without their star record setting QB. Marshall will probably be favored in this game but I wouldn't give them more than three points. This could finally be the game where Trayion Durham shows the conference that he is back after redshirting the 2014 season. KSU pulls off the upset at home narrowly. 2-2
October 3rd: Miami
This is a hard game to predict right now since Miami is one of the few schools in the MAC who lost their starting QB in 2014 to graduation. With Hendrix gone the QB position is untested for Miami and the linebacking core of Kent State will take advantage. The good people of Kent will taste a winning record, for now. 3-2
October 10th: at Toledo
This begins a mighty rough stretch of MAC opponents for the Golden Flashes. Toledo looks to be a serious contender of the West and could blow this one out of the water early. The Glass Bowl is one of the tougher places to play and Reardon will struggle here. 3-3
October 17th: at UMass
After last year's thrashing the Flashes will be looking for revenge. They won't find it here though as the Minutemen are returning some serious talent on both sides of the ball. Ultimately Blake Frohnapfel and Tajae Sharpe will be too much to handle for this bend-don't-break secondary as UMass runs up the score again. 3-4
Ocotober 24th: Bowling Green
Assuming Matt Johnson is fully recorved from his hip injury this will be another explosive Dino Babers team. Even though it is a home game Kent just won't have the fire power to put up the points they need. Reardon struggles again as they fall to 3-5
October 31th: Open
The Flashes will need this after a brutal three game stretch that will likely see them go 0-3. A regroup will be needed as their next four MAC games are essentially toss ups and really could go either way.
November 5th: Buffalo
Buffalo got a sexy new coach that apparently doesn't know what it feels like to lose. I'm sure he will get used to that in Buffalo but it won't be this week. Joe Licata will out-duel Reardon in this one as Kent losses their fourth straight game. 3-6
October 10th: at Ohio
MACtion. This is the start of weekday games as this one takes place on a Tuesday in Athens. I think the Kent State defense matches up nicely with this Bobcats offense. J.D. Sprague and Derrius Vick will battle it out to see who is the starter for 2015 but both guys rely on their legs which falls right into the strength of the Kent defense. Ohio is a young team who is on the cusp of being pretty good. But Matt Dellinger and company should be able to keep them at bay as Kent ends the four game skid. 4-6
October 18th: CMU
Another weekday game under the lights for the Flashes. Central's roster of playmakers has been seriously depleted with the losses of Thomas Rawls and Titus Davis. It remains to be seen what Cooper Rush can do without the best security blanket in the MAC in Davis. Rush is one of the QB's who I feel pretty good about Reardon being able to play better than, especially at home. Kent makes it two in a row. 5-6
October 27th: at Akron
The beloved Black Friday game that no one seems to want to attend. The students are on break and the rest of the fans are still in a food coma or shopping. That won't stop both of these teams from getting up for one of the best rivalries in the MAC and in the sport. Akron's QB situation is a mess right now but by this time in the season they should have it figured out. On a neutral field this would be an even game so with Akron hosting I will give them the edge ever so slightly. 5-7
While 5-7 may be a bit optimistic for a team that lost its top two targets in Chris Humphrey and Casey Pierce, they do return five players that had at least 34 targets and have two incoming WRs that were rated at 3 stars. Reardon should have some weapons at his disposal and Treadwell did a very nice job when his was the OC at Michigan State. The addition of Durham will take a lot of the pressure off the QB and will allow Kent to go back to a more balanced offense or even a run first one.