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Toledo (5-3) at Kent State (1-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 4, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dix Stadium (25,319) -- Kent, Ohio. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Toledo 4-1, Kent State 1-3. Away Record: Toledo 1-2, Kent State 0-4. Neutral Record: Toledo 0-0, Kent State 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 4-0, Kent State 0-4. Series Record: Toledo leads, 23-21.
GAME NOTES: With a chance to take down the last of the unbeaten conference teams, the Kent State Golden Flashes will play host to the Toledo Rockets in Mid-American Conference battle at Dix Stadium Tuesday evening.
Toledo has won four of its last five games, and is a perfect 4-0 in conference play this season entering this matchup. The Rockets were able to remain unbeaten in the MAC after narrowly escaping UMass, 42-35, on Oct. 25 in the team's last outing.
Kent State, which is still winless in conference play, finally put a season victory up on the board back on Oct. 18 with a 39-17 win over Army. But the Golden Flashes fell back into the loss column with a 10-3 defeat at the hands of Miami-Ohio on Oct. 25.
The two teams have been fairly even in their all-time series, with Toledo owning the slim 23-21 lead over Kent State in a series that dates back to 1942. The last time these teams met on the field was in 2010.
Knotted up at 35-35 on Oct. 25, Toledo got its final touchdown of the game against UMass on a Terry Swanson 19-yard run with 34 second to play. The score put the Rockets up by a touchdown, and proved to be the deciding score in the contest. The win prevented Toledo from dropping back-to-back games for the second time this season.
As is typically the case, Toledo got a fantastic showing from its run game against the Minutemen, with 295 of the team's 520 total offensive yards coming on the ground. Kareem Hunt performed exceptionally well, gaining 198 yards on 26 carries, adding a touchdown to his resume. Swanson added 97 yards and two scores to the cause. The first-place Rockets are averaging 35 ppg and 248.4 rushing ypg this season, and have scored 20 times on the ground. Hunt leads the team with 725 rushing yards with eight scores.
Logan Woodside played another decent game under center, although the original backup quarterback threw two interceptions in the win. Since filling in for regular starter Phillip Ely (who tore his ACL earlier this season), Woodside has passed for 1,489 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, with a completion percentage of 61.1.
It was not a solid game for the Toledo defense against Massachusetts, which racked up 497 total offensive yards and scored 35 points in the loss. UMass starting quarterback Blake Frohnapfel passed for 438 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions on 55 pass attempts.
Toledo's defense is allowing an average of 33.6 ppg and 449.9 total offensive ypg to opponents this season, but the Golden Flashes have struggled to score points in seven of the team's eight games. Linebackers Junior Sylvestre (69 tackles) and Trent Voss (nine tackles for loss, four sacks) will make sure Kent State stays uncomfortable in the pocket offensively, while Christian Dukes and Jordan Haden man the defensive backfield.
Aside from a second-quarter field goal, Kent State couldn't find any way of putting points on the board against a sub-par Miami-Ohio team two weekends ago. The team as a whole only gained 79 yards on the ground and 285 yards offensively, which has been characteristic of the season thus far for the Golden Flashes.
Quarterback Colin Reardon was sensational against Army a few weeks ago, but he fell back down to Earth against the RedHawks, passing for 201 yards and an interception on 39 attempts. He also rushed for 21 yards on seven carries. He's the leader of an offense that averages a dismal 14.1 ppg (second to last in the FBS this season), having thrown for just nine touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. The sophomore has been forced to be the leader, with senior running back Trayion Durham continuously sidelined with an injury.
The offense would be significantly improved with Durham in the backfield, but after losing Dri Archer to the NFL and Durham to injury, the Golden Flashes have been reliant on Nick Holley to gain some yards on the ground. In eight games, the running back has just 305 yards on 88 carries (3.5 ypc), while Reardon leads the way with two rushing touchdowns. The offense gains 74.4 rushing ypg (122nd in the FBS), which means the Toledo defense can cheat the pass.
Kent State's defense, on the other hand, has its hands full with an extremely talented rushing attack for the Rockets. The Golden Flashes are surrendering 29.4 ppg to opponents, which isn't bad, but are giving up 217.3 rushing ypg. Opponents have scored 14 times against Kent State on the ground in eight games, which means Toledo can give handoff after handoff to Hunt, Swanson and a whole host of running backs.
Nate Holley still leads the Golden Flashes with 101 tackles this season. Only two players on the Kent State roster have a team-best three tackles for loss, and no one has more than one sack. In fact, the defense has recorded a combined four sacks all season long, which doesn't bode well when Woodside and the Toledo running backs have time in the backfield to make up their minds.
Even on the road, Toledo will be able to hand the ball off to either Hunt, Swanson or another running back and see success against an absolutely terrible rush defense. The Golden Flashes are winless in MAC play this season, and will more than likely drop to 0-5 after Tuesday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 45, Kent State 17
11/04 10:44:13 ET