Kent State vs. Toledo Odds & Picks: Betting Value on MAC Underdog
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Schlee #19 of the Kent State Golden Flashes.
- The Kent State Golden Flashes play the Toledo Rockets in a Mid-American Conference showdown on Saturday afternoon.
- The Rockets enter as favorites of just over a touchdown, according to updated odds, but Stuckey sees betting value on the other side.
- Check out Stuckey's top bet and analysis for Kent State vs. Toledo below.
Kent State vs. Toledo Odds
|Kent State Odds|
-112o / -108u
-112o / -108u
Two teams with hopes of reaching the conference title game will meet in the Glass Bowl on Saturday afternoon in a critical MAC showdown.
The Golden Flashes (2-4, 1-1) currently find themselves in a four-way tie for second place in the East Division at 1-1. Meanwhile, Toledo (4-2, 2-0) sits all alone atop the West Division after back-to-back blowouts over league opponents.
Can the Rockets keep it rolling at home or can Kent State stay within this number and potentially pull off the upset? Let's take a closer look.
Coming into the season, Kent State knew it had to replace reigning MAC Player of the Year Dustin Crum at quarterback.
Surprisingly, that has not been an issue at all with replacement Collin Schlee playing extremely well to start the season. Despite a brutal schedule, the Golden Flashes rank in the top 25 nationally in Offensive Success Rate.
The dual-threat Schlee leads a fast-paced, RPO-heavy attack that uses the run to set up the pass. Schlee and running back Marquez Cooper get a majority of the carries. The ground game lacks a bit of the explosiveness we saw in 2021 with Xavier Williams no longer around.
Dante Cephas, one of the most underrated pass catchers in the country, is the clear go-to receiver. Heading into Week 7, Cephas is one of only 10 wideouts in the country with at least 600 receiving yards. He and Devontez Walker make up a very dynamic duo on the outside.
The offensive line has been solid in terms of run blocking, but has struggled at times in pass protection. New starting left tackle Marcellus Marshall has been particularly poor in that regard.
Conversely, new starting right tackle Savion Washington has excelled across the board through the first half of the season. Overall, it's been a mixed bag of results for an offensive line that had to replace an abundance of production.
Under head coach Sean Lewis, defense has always been an issue for the Golden Flashes. They are usually undersized up front, leaving them extremely vulnerable against opposing rushing attacks.
However, the results have been promising so far for a defense that transitioned to a 3-3-5 base this season. The defense currently ranks 42nd in Opportunity Rate (percentage of carries that go for four yards when four yards is available) and 35th in Stuff Rate after a very tough schedule. In comparison, they ranked 107th and 70th in those respective categories last year.
It appears the run defense will be much stronger in 2022 after some scheme tweaking. The outstanding play of CJ West on the interior has also provided a huge boost. Zayin West can also wreak Havoc off the edge.
Coming into the season, Kent State needed to replace three of their top four linebackers but getting Kesean Gamble back from injury has helped smooth that transition. The secondary remains the biggest work in progress after losing a starting safety and first-team All-MAC cornerback from last year's squad.
Statistically, it's still a horrific defense but I believe we will continue to see positive results as the schedule eases up.
Similar to Kent State, Toledo is a run-first offense led by dual-threat quarterback Dequan Finn, who has the job all to himself after sharing time in 2021 with Carter Bradley, who's now thriving with South Alabama.
Finn has had a tremendous start to the 2022 campaign despite losing almost every key skill position player from last year and working in front of an offensive line that lost two key starters to injury in the preseason.
Jacquez Stuart has emerged as the primary option in a running back by committee approach that looks to fill the void left by leading rusher Bryant Koback, now with the Vikings. The running game overall has been too inconsistent but seems to be improving as the offensive line builds continuity.
Meanwhile, the passing attack remains a major work in progress after the Rockets lost five of their top six receivers. Losing Matt Landers late in the spring to the transfer portal particularly hurt this inexperienced group.
Finn's primary targets have been Jerjuan Newton and DeMeer Blankumsee, who have plenty of talent but the latter didn't play last week for what it's worth.
From an EPA perspective, both the rushing and passing attacks have been about average on a national scale against a very easy schedule, so there's definitely still major room for offensive growth.
On the other side of the ball, Toledo features the best defense in the conference and one of the best at the Group of Five level. The front seven is particularly loaded with talent and experience after finishing in the top 25 nationally in both sacks and tackles for loss in 2021.
The stacked defensive line features Penn State transfer Judge Culpepper in the interior, along with two other studs in Desjuan Johnson and Jamal Hines.
The DL also has extremely strong depth in front of a rock-solid linebacker corps led by Dyontae Johnson. Ohio State transfer Dallas Gant has also shined at linebacker next to Johnson in his first season with the Rockets. The run defense is dominant, but the pass rush has taken a step back so far this season.
While the front seven has almost zero question marks, the secondary is a different story after losing two pros from last year's stingy defensive backfield. Cornerback Samuel Womack and safety Tycen Anderson are now with the 49ers and Bengals, respectively. That left two massive holes on a defense that likes to play a lot of nickel.
Toledo does have one cornerback spot set in stone with returning starter Quinton Williams. Believe it or not, he had four interceptions last week and returned two for a touchdown in one of the wildest stat lines you'll see for a defender.
However, the unit overall has some holes, which is why they rank outside the top 80 in both EPA per Pass and Pass Success Rate even after playing a favorable schedule.
Kent State vs. Toledo Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kent State and Toledo match up statistically:
Kent State Offense vs. Toledo Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Toledo Offense vs. Kent State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||57||108|
|Seconds per Play||23.3 (16)||25.0 (33)|
|Rush Rate||61.9% (14)||59.3% (25)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Kent State vs. Toledo Betting Pick
These two teams profile fairly similar in many ways. Both are up-tempo, rush-first offenses led by dual-threat quarterbacks,
However, one major difference lies in each team's strength of schedule. Toledo has four wins over three teams with a combined three wins. Beating UMass, Long Island and two struggling MAC teams in Northern Illinois (with a backup quarterback) and Central Michigan will certainly lead to a favorable statistical profile.
The Rockets also predictably got blown out by Ohio State with the other loss coming on the road at San Diego State. The latter looks worse with each passing week as the Aztecs continue to struggle. In fact, they just beat Hawaii at home by almost the exact final score (16-14 over Hawaii, 17-14 over Toledo).
Meanwhile, Kent State had one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country with three road games against Power 5 opponents Washington, Georgia and Oklahoma. The Golden Flashes lost all three as expected but actually received upgraded in my power ratings after each one.
I was particularly impressed with their effort against a full-strength Oklahoma, holding the Sooners scoreless for most of the first half. They then followed that game up with a very respectable 39-22 loss on the road against the defending national champions.
For the season to date, I have Kent State with a top-30 strength of schedule, while Toledo wouldn't even crack the top 130 if I include FCS teams. As a result, I think the statistical profiles and perceptions of these two clubs are artificially too far apart.
Ultimately, I don't think there's that much of a difference between these two teams.
Kent State's defense obviously rates out poorly after playing such a brutal non-conference schedule, but I think it may be significantly improved, especially against the run. That's key in this particular matchup. I also think their offense can have success through the air against a Toledo secondary that has a few exploitable areas.
Lastly, home-field advantage has very little impact in the MAC. I'll happily take over a touchdown with what I believe is the undervalued road pup.