College Football Odds, Predictions, Picks for Kent State vs. Western Michigan: The Team Total to Bet (Oct. 16)

College Football Odds, Predictions, Picks for Kent State vs. Western Michigan: The Team Total to Bet (Oct. 16) article feature image

Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Crum.

  • The Kent State Golden Flashes take on the Western Michigan Broncos in Saturday afternoon MAC action at 3:30 p.m. ET.
  • The Broncos enter as near-touchdown favorites, but don't count out Dustin Crun and the Golden Flashes offense.
  • Darin Gardner breaks down the MAC game below and shares a betting pick and prediction based on his analysis.

Kent State vs. Western Michigan Odds

Kent State Odds+6.5
Western Michigan Odds-6.5
Moneyline+215 / -275
Time3:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Kent State got off to a slow start against a tough out-of-conference schedule but has rebounded to a 2-0 record in MAC play after wins over Bowling Green and Buffalo in back-to-back weeks.

It's coming off its best performance by far against an FBS opponent this year, after it ran up 48 on the Bulls last week in its second straight in-division win.

As of now, Kent State is set up very well on its path to the conference championship game, considering how the rest of the MAC East has looked so far.

Meanwhile, Western Michigan saw its conference record drop to 1-1 after last week's loss to Ball State. It's not dead by any means in the conference championship race, but a loss to Kent State here would make it very tough for a Broncos team that had high hopes in the MAC entering the year.

These teams were expected to have the top-two offenses in the conference entering the year, but neither has played quite up to expectations so far in 2021.

Is this a spot where both offenses take over?

Kent State vs. Western Michigan Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 16
3:30 p.m. ET

Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State Offense

A Kent State offense that many were expecting huge things out of this year finally hit its stride last week against Buffalo. The Golden Flashes' 58% Success Rate ranked fifth among all offenses in Week 6, and they put up 7.8 yards per play in the contest as well.

Having to face Iowa and Texas A&M in the team's first two FBS games caused some problems for this offense, but it looks pointed in the right direction after being one of the most explosive in the country last season.

Quarterback Dustin Crum has continued to play well in his third season as the starter, and ranks seventh in the country in big time throw rate, per Pro Football Focus. His performance last week was dominant with 407 passing yards on 11.3 yards per attempt with five total touchdowns against Buffalo.

Crum has been a major threat on the ground this year, as well, racking up 412 yards over six games while forcing 20 missed tackles on 58 attempts. To date, he's PFF's second-graded rusher at the quarterback position.

Kent State Defense

The Golden Flashes defense has continued to be a weakness in 2021. The run defense has been very weak at 114th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per rush and 119th in Stuff Rate.

The front had a great performance in the first game of MAC play, holding Bowling Green to just 55 yards on 26 carries, but then it was gashed by a mediocre Buffalo ground game last week.

Pass rush has also been a major weakness, as Kent State ranks 126th in pressure rate. Not being able to make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable has made it tough for the coverage unit to do its job, and as a result, the defense ranks 92nd in Passing Success Rate allowed.

Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan Offense

Kent State doesn't have the only offense in this matchup that has taken a step back after dominating the MAC in 2020.

There was still plenty of reason to hope for improvement entering conference play, considering Western Michigan's first three FBS games were against Michigan, Pitt and a solid San Jose State defense. However, the Broncos' offensive performances in two MAC games have not inspired much confidence.

There hasn't been much explosiveness at all in Western Michigan's last two performances against Buffalo and Ball State. In total, the Broncos have run 166 plays over the past two weeks and have averaged just five yards per play against two defenses that have struggled in 2021.

After quarterback Kaleb Eleby ranked second in the country in yards per attempt last year behind only Mac Jones, his 7.7 yards per attempt this season ranks just 55th.

Overall, Western Michigan's 2.23 points per drive ranks 58th in the country.

Western Michigan Defense

The Broncos' offense has taken a step back and the defense hasn't shown much improvement to speak of after 2020.

It's coming off a rough day against a Ball State offense that has really struggled this year, allowing 7.1 yards per play, which was the best performance of the year for the Cardinals' offense.

Crum is poised for a big day against a defense that ranks 118th in PFF coverage grade.

On the ground, a Kent State attack that has been very efficient will get to face a front that ranks 61st in Rushing Success Rate allowed.

This defense could be in for a rough performance in this spot and the offense will need to take advantage of a weak Kent State defense to bring home a win.

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Kent State vs. Western Michigan Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kent State and Western Michigan match up statistically:

Kent State Offense vs. Western Michigan Defense
Rush Success461
Line Yards939
Pass Success10428
Pass Blocking**5041
Big Play6564
Finishing Drives10262
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Western Michigan Offense vs. Kent State Defense
Rush Success4196
Line Yards48110
Pass Success6192
Pass Blocking**50119
Big Play90108
Finishing Drives10069
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling5892
Middle 811094
SP+ Special Teams123130
Plays per Minute6109
Rush Rate63.7% (17)58.5% (42)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

As you can see above, this will be a conflicting matchup in terms of pace. Kent State runs its offense at one of the fastest paces in the nation, while Western Michigan is on the other end of the spectrum.

Another factor in this game is horrendous special teams on both sides. Kent State's kickoff efficiency ranks 128th in the country, per Football Outsiders, and ranks 96th in punting efficiency.

The Broncos have been just as bad in both of those areas, but rank 121st in field goal efficiency as well.

In terms of average field position for the opposing offenses, Kent State ranks 102nd and Western Michigan ranks 96th. If these areas do not improve, expect some short fields on both sides.

Kent State vs. Western Michigan Betting Pick

It's looking like the most reliable unit in this matchup is the Kent State offense.

It got off to a rough start against a very strong schedule of opposing defenses early on in the year, but it has been rounding into form of late. This Western Michigan defense comes in with plenty of questions of its own, and a leaky coverage unit could have a very long day against Kent State's Dustin Crum.

In this game, I'll be looking at the Kent State team total. It's available at 28.5 to 29.5 in most places, which is solid value when considering how this offense matches up in this contest.

The Golden Flashes' pace and explosiveness could overwhelm a Western Michigan defense that hasn't shown much positivity in 2021.

Make sure to shop around for the best price on this as well. There is a 29.5 available at BetMGM for a reduced -105 price, compared to a 28.5 available for -120 elsewhere.

Team totals land on 29 less than 1% of the time, which is far less than the 3.3% implied probability you would be paying to go from -120 to -105, so look for the higher number at a reduced price.

Pick: Kent State Team Total over 29.5

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