Akron vs. Kent State Odds, Picks: DJ Irons to Be Matchup Problem
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: DJ Irons (Akron)
- Akron and Kent State square off in a MAC affair on Saturday as part of college football's Week 8 slate.
- The Golden Flashes with have to shut down Zips quarterback DJ Irons, which is easier said than done.
- Dan Keegan previews the matchup and offers up his best bet.
Akron vs. Kent State Odds
1-6 Akron travels to take on 2-5 Kent State in the final MAC Saturday before mid-week MACtion kicks off.
Akron had bottomed out in previous seasons, checking in as one of the worst FBS teams in the country for a few years running. This is a full “year zero” rebuild under Joe Moorhead, and the results have been predictably ghastly in 2022.
Kent State reached the MAC Championship last year, dropping it to Northern Illinois. Sean Lewis’ “Flash Fast” offense has stalled a bit in a rebuilding year, but the Golden Flashes are looking to right the ship in conference play.
The spread is large, and Kent State has won this game 26-3, 69-35 and 38-0 in the last three years. Does it have another blowout win in it, or has the gap narrowed in 2022?
The Zips are currently one of the toughest rebuilding jobs in FBS. The Tom Arth era was an unmitigated disaster, with a 3-27 stint over his three years at the helm.
Moorhead took the reins this offseason, and this 2022 campaign would never be anything but growing pains.
The Zips are 1-6, with their only win over FCS St. Francis in overtime. They are 0-3 in MAC play, losing one-score games at home to Bowling Green and Central Michigan and getting blown out by Ohio on the road.
The Zips are 126th overall in Beta_Rank, which is a model based on drive level data and only uses in-season results, unlike SP+. So despite some reasons for optimism in the Moorhead regime and some close games in the league, the Zips are still in the FBS cellar.
They are 111th in offensive Beta_Rank and 126th in defensive.
Quarterback DJ Irons does it all. In addition to his 1,816 pass yards for seven touchdowns and three picks, he also leads the team in rushing attempts with 88. He is effective as a rusher, accumulating 381 yards on the ground, although his box score number is 187 thanks to -199 yards lost to sacks.
Irons can turn it over and takes a lot of sacks, but Kent State’s defense doesn’t create a lot of Havoc, ranking 112th in that measure. The Flashes have also struggled with mobile quarterbacks in MAC play, allowing big days on the ground to Toledo’s Dequan Finn and Miami (OH)'s Aveon Smith.
Irons should be in for a big day against Kent’s forgiving defense.
Akron’s defense is a deep rebuild. It’s hard to find a metric where the Zips are inside the top 100 of FBS. Rushing, passing. explosives, efficiency. You name it. It’s very much a full-scale rebuild.
The Flashes lost a ton of production from last season’s division champs, including longtime starting quarterback Dustin Crum. But Collin Schlee has stepped into the role and has been prolific.
Schlee pilots Lewis’ “Flash Fast” scheme, a run-first system that pushes tempo at a breakneck pace. Kent State is 15th in the country in both plays per second and Rush Rate.
Both Schlee and lead tailback Marquez Cooper are feasting in this system. Cooper is second in the MAC with 708 yards on the ground and Schlee has chipped in 412 yards rushing (before his sack yardage lost is removed from his total).
Despite rushing at a very high frequency, the offense is actually quite balanced from an efficiency viewpoint, ranking exactly 34th in FBS in both Rushing and Passing EPA Success Rate.
Kent State does not do a great job at making the most of its scoring chances. The Golden Flashes are 40th in the country in ECKEL rate — a measure of how often a team creates quality possessions — but 97th in the country in Points Per ECKEL.
The defense is a problem, though, ranking 128th in SP+. Similar to the Akron conundrum, it’s hard to find a single area that could pose a problem for offenses.
Akron vs. Kent State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Akron and Kent State match up statistically:
Akron Offense vs. Kent State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Kent State Offense vs. Akron Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||129||57|
|Seconds per Play||25.4 (38)||23.1 (15)|
|Rush Rate||41.2% (125)||62.2% (15)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Akron vs. Kent State Betting Pick
With two equally catastrophic defenses meeting, it would be fun to take the over and root for a shootout.
But I believe the best play is to take the points. Kent State has yet to show the ability to blow out MAC opponents, and its generous defense will allow Moorhead’s outfit to score some points of their own, or at least keep it within distance of a backdoor cover.
Akron’s Irons will be a matchup problem for Kent State with his mobility, and Kent State has the proclivity to come up empty on quality drives.
The line opened at Akron getting 20, and now sits at 18.5. I’ll play it there and at anything over 17.