Kent State vs. Ohio College Football Odds & Betting Picks: Back the Golden Flashes in Saturday MACtion (Oct. 23)

Kent State vs. Ohio College Football Odds & Betting Picks: Back the Golden Flashes in Saturday MACtion (Oct. 23) article feature image

Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kurtis Rourke.

  • The Kent State Golden Flashes and Ohio Bobcats meet for a midseason MACtion college football contest on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. ET.
  • Kent State was a popular preseason pick to win the conference, and the Golden Flashes offense feels like a sleeping giant dripping with potential.
  • College football betting analyst Mike Ianniello breaks down today's college football matchup below and gives his top pick for Kent State vs. Ohio.

Kent State vs. Ohio Odds

Saturday, Oct. 23
1 p.m. ET
Kent State Odds
-105o / -115u
Ohio Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Shockwaves were sent through Athens, Ohio when the legendary Frank Solich, the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history, suddenly announced his retirement on July 14, 2021 after 16 seasons with the Bobcats.

Offensive coordinator Tim Albin was promoted to head coach but the Bobcats have really struggled to find their balance. Ohio is just 1-6, with the lone win coming against Akron.

After a six-year bowl drought, Kent State put together a winning record last season and capped it off with a win in the Frisco Bowl. It was the Golden Flashes' first bowl victory in program history.

The Golden Flashes are 3-4 so far this season, dropping three Power 5 games during the non-conference slate and then getting thumped by Western Michigan last week.

Ohio has won six straight games against Kent State, so I’m sure the Flashes are thrilled to not have to face Solich anymore.

Will the Bobcats keep things rolling in this matchup, or can Kent State finally get a win in Athens?

Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State Offense

You better be ready to move with this Sean Lewis “Fast Flash” offense.

Kent State operates at the third-fastest pace in the country. They have the 25th-highest rush rate and keep the clock moving, but they are constantly operating at full speed right until the end of the game.

Not only do they run the ball a lot, they do it very well. The Golden Flashes rank third in the country in Rushing Success and 15th in Line Yards. They average 223.1 yards per game on the ground, led by Marquez Cooper.

A big surprise for Kent State has been the regression of All-MAC quarterback Dustin Crum.

Crum was seen as a legit NFL prospect after completing 73.5% of his passes for 295.3 yards per game and 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions last season. Kent State finished last season ranked first in the country in Passing Success Rate.

Expected to be the best quarterback in the conference, Crum is completing just 58.7% of his throws and averaging 216.1 yards per game. His yards per attempt has dropped from 10.5 to 8.0 this year. However, he does still have a cannon and ranks seventh in the country with 17 big time throws.

Kent State Defense

The offense running at such a fast pace understandably puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

Kent State finished last year ranked 67th and 66th in Success Rate against the pass and the run. This year, it has struggled even more, sitting 105th in Passing Success and 104th in Rushing Success.

Now, I’m sure those numbers will improve as MAC play continues and it's easy to point out these numbers are inflated after blowouts against Texas A&M, Iowa and Maryland.

However, Western Michigan just put up 64 points and 648 total yards of offense last week. It averaged 8.9 yards per play and pretty much got whatever it wanted through the air and on the ground.

There’s just not a whole lot to like about this Kent State defense. Their one strength last year was getting a good pass rush, but they sit just 94th this season.

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Ohio Bobcats

Ohio Offense

The Bobcats' offense runs the ball just as much as Kent State, and does it just as well. They just do it much slower, ranking 117th in plays per minute.

I don’t think the slower pace makes them any less effective, though. Ohio leads the MAC with 5.6 yards per carry on the ground this year. They rank 16th in Rushing Success Rate and sit fifth in Line Yards.

Running back De’Montre Tuggle leads all MAC running backs with 6.3 yards per carry and has scored a touchdown in three straight games.

Tuggle isn’t doing it alone, though, after a recent quarterback change has really helped the run game as well.

After Kurtis Rourke was ineffective, the Bobcats made the switch to Armani Rogers, who profiles as much more of a dual-threat option.

Over the last two games, Rogers is averaging 132.5 yards passing with no scores and 110 yards rushing with three scores. Last week, he broke the NCAA record for longest touchdown by a quarterback with a 99-yard house call.

Longest Rushing TD by a QB in NCAA History. No Big Deal🤷‍♂️

📺 (ESPN+):

— Ohio Football 🏈 (@OhioFootball) October 16, 2021

Ohio Defense

I’m sure all these teams are missing last year’s MAC-only schedules. The Bobcats' defense was pretty average last year, ranking 60th in Success Rate on defense.

This season, they have dropped to 103rd despite having a fairly manageable non-conference schedule.

Last week, Ohio held a 26-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter against Buffalo, but allowed 17 unanswered points. The Bulls posted a 56% Success Rate in the fourth quarter to beat the Bobcats by one.

When Solich retired he must have taken all the tackling dummies with him because getting guys to the ground has been a big issue in Athens this year. Ohio ranks just 122nd in the country in tackling, per Pro Football Focus.

Kent State vs. Ohio Matchup Analysis

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

Kent State Offense vs. Ohio Defense
Rush Success399
Line Yards15111
Pass Success104111
Pass Blocking**75116
Big Play10598
Finishing Drives96100
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Ohio Offense vs. Kent State Defense
Rush Success16104
Line Yards5110
Pass Success123105
Pass Blocking**9294
Big Play6587
Finishing Drives5095
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling71122
Middle 811480
SP+ Special Teams122125
Plays per Minute3117
Rush Rate61.9% (25)61.7% (27)

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

Kent State vs. Ohio Betting Pick

Entering the season, Kent State was expected to have the best offense in the MAC. Despite leading the conference in yards per game, it still feels like the Golden Flashes have not quite reached their full potential.

Crum averaged just 179.2 yards per game through the first five games, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Well, over the last two games, he is averaging 308.5 yards per game with five touchdowns and no picks.

It looks like we are finally seeing Crum start to hit his stride and I expect a big game from him against this defense that ranks 111th in Pass Success.

Kent State will no doubt still want to establish the run, as well. For a team third in the country in Rush Success, this is a good matchup.

Ohio has been the worst run defense in the MAC, allowing 228 yards per game on the ground and over 5.1 yards per carry. They really struggle to tackle and have allowed 48 runs of 10 yards or more.

Ohio has really taken a step back without Solich on the sideline and I expect them to continue to struggle while Kent State finally continues to hit its stride on offense against a poor defense.

I like the Golden Flashes at -5.5 and would play them to -6.

Pick: Kent State -6 or better

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