The transfer portal decimated Kent State, and the results through four weeks of this season have not been pretty. After picking up their third loss over the weekend, the Golden Flashes will open up MAC Conference play by hosting Miami of Ohio, and we’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
Aside from a week one blowout loss, the Miami of Ohio Redhawks have been putting on an offensive clinic this season. Coming off their 62-20 win over Delaware State, the Redhawks have scored 30 or more points in three straight weeks. The explosive offense is ranked 6th in passing yards per attempt, with an average of 10.7, and quarterback Brett Gabbert has amassed 846 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
The biggest factor in the week four victory, though, was their run game, as the Redhawks finished with 466 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Jordan Brunson led the rushing attack by going for 109 yards and one touchdown. The Redhawks' defense also deserves some credit for the team's 3-1 start, as they rank 49th in defensive EPA according to CFB Graphs.
After facing a well-below-average opponent last weekend, the Redhawks will face another this weekend, taking on Kent State. Entering this week, the Golden Flashes are averaging just 7.3 points and 223.7 yards per game. Aside from a win over Central Connecticut in which they scored 38 points, Kent State has only scored one touchdown against a power five opponent.
In their 53-10 loss to Fresno State over the weekend, the Golden Flashes picked up one rushing touchdown but would ultimately finish the game with 231 total yards. Kent State’s starting quarterback Michael Alaimo has thrown for just 593 yards and one touchdown on the year, which has led to the Golden Flashes offense being ranked 113th in offensive EPA, according to CFB Graphs. Defensively, the team has not been much better, allowing 514.7 yards per game and an average of 7.2 yards per game.
Miami of Ohio is currently listed as (-14.5) point favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. The Redhawks are far and away the better team in this matchup on both sides of the ball, and even playing on the road, I think they can continue their impressive scoring pace.
Brett Gabbert and the Redhawks offense rank 40th in EPA per pass play according to CFB Graphs, and now they take on a Golden Flashes defense that is 127th in defensive EPA on pass plays and allowing an average of 280 passing yards per game. Kent State is also 117th in the country in sack percentage, so Gabbert should not only have plenty of time to throw, but the Redhawks running game should be able to continue the success they had last weekend.
Despite being 116th in rushing yards per game, Kent State is still 14th in rush play percentage, which plays into the strengths of the Miami of Ohio defense since they are 48th in EPA on rush plays. With an offensive success rate of 30.1%, I don’t see a game where the Golden Flashes can keep pace with the Redhawks offense, especially if Michael Alaimo continues to average just 140.3 passing yards per game.
Miami Ohio Redhawks (-14.5)