Kent State (6-6) vs Utah State (7-5)
When: Friday, December 20th 2019
Where: Toyota Stadium,
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ESPN2
Opening Odds: Utah State -8/64
The Kent State Golden Flashes were sitting at 3-6 last month with very little chance of playing past November, but an offensive surge has brought them to Frisco, Texas for this year’s edition of the Frisco Bowl against the Utah State Aggies. Kent State, who was picked to finish in the middle of the MAC after back-to-back 2-10 seasons, rallied to win their final three games to become Bowl-eligible. Those wins were nail-bitters over Buffalo (30-27), Ball State (41-38) and Eastern Michigan (34-26). They were one of only eight FBS teams with a four-game improvement from the previous season and are led by second-year head coach Sean Lewis. While the Golden Flashes are seeking the school’s first ever Bowl win, the Aggies are 5-8 in such contests and are making their third straight bowl appearance and eighth in the last nine seasons. Utah State is led by junior quarterback Jordan Love, who will enter 2020 NFL draft after throwing for 3,085 yards and 17 touchdowns with 16 interceptions in 2019. Those numbers are way down from 2018, when he threw for 3,567 yards and 32 touchdowns. The Aggies were picked to finish high in the Mountain West Conference, but lost two conference games including a 56-21 setback from eventual division champion Boise State on Nov. 23 before rebounding with a 38-25 victory over New Mexico in the regular-season finale. Utah State opened as 8-point favorites and the line has been moved down to 7 as of Monday afternoon with a total of 65.5. Kent State was 8-4 ATS this season, while the Aggies finished 7-5.
If you want to score on Kent State, all you have to do is start with the running game. The Golden Flashes ranked 127th out of 130 in stopping the run, allowing a gaudy 250.2 yards a contest on the ground. They do have an offense that can keep up with the lack of defense, scoring 27.4 points and 393.6 yards of total offense per game. Junior quarterback Dustin Crum has passed for 2,333 yards and 18 touchdowns with only two interceptions on the season, while contributing another 560 yards and five TDs on the ground. Senior running back Will Matthews averages 4.8 yards per carry, while the leading receiver is Isaiah McKoy with 51 catches, 767 yards, and seven scores.
Like Kent State, the Aggies need to score a lot to make up for a poor defense that ranks 96th overall (431.6) and 103rd versus the run (197.9). Utah State allowed at least 30 points a game in four of their last six. Love does have a few weapons at his disposal including running back Gerold Bright, who rushed for 827 yards and eight TDs on the season. Four different players caught at least 36 passes for the Aggies this year led by wide receivers Siaosi Mariner (56 receptions, 874 yards, eight touchdowns) and Jordan Nathan (47 catches, 510 yards).
The Golden Flashes come in with the momentum and the task of winning a Bowl game for the first time in school history. Although their defense is bad, it’s still a little better than Utah State’s overall. I think Kent State wants this a little more than the Aggies, so I’ll look for a close game here.
Pick: Kent State +7 (Jay Cooper’s Free Bowl Picks)
Aggies are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
Aggies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Aggies are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games.
Aggies are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games as a favorite.
Aggies are 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 Friday games.
Aggies are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games on grass.
Aggies are 17-8 ATS in their last 25 games overall.
Aggies are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
Golden Flashes are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
Golden Flashes are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
Golden Flashes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
Golden Flashes are 7-3-2 ATS in their last 12 Friday games.
Golden Flashes are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games following a straight up win.
Golden Flashes are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games on grass.
Golden Flashes are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
Golden Flashes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Under is 7-0 in Aggies last 7 bowl games as a favorite.
Under is 7-0 in Aggies last 7 neutral site games as a favorite.
Under is 7-0 in Aggies last 7 bowl games.
Under is 9-0-1 in Aggies last 10 games in December.
Under is 7-0 in Aggies last 7 Bowl games.
Under is 4-0-1 in Aggies last 5 games on grass.
Under is 4-0 in Aggies last 4 vs. MAC.
Under is 7-0 in Aggies last 7 neutral site games.
Under is 7-1 in Aggies last 8 games following a straight up win.
Over is 6-1 in Aggies last 7 Friday games.
Over is 4-1 in Aggies last 5 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 4-1-1 in Aggies last 6 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
Under is 4-1 in Aggies last 5 games following a ATS win.
Under is 4-1-1 in Aggies last 6 games as a favorite.
Over is 11-3 in Aggies last 14 non-conference games.
Over is 3-1-1 in Aggies last 5 games overall.
Under is 4-0 in Golden Flashes last 4 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 4-1 in Golden Flashes last 5 games as an underdog.
Under is 4-1 in Golden Flashes last 5 non-conference games.
Over is 6-2 in Golden Flashes last 8 games following a straight up win.
Under is 11-4 in Golden Flashes last 15 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
Over is 9-4 in Golden Flashes last 13 games on grass.