It is time for some MACtion as Kent State football looks to get back to a bowl game after winning just five games last year. It is time to continue our college football odds series with a Kent State football over/under win total prediction and pick.
Last year Sean Lewis and the Kent State Golden Flashes won five games, including four in the conference. They played an extremely difficult non-conference schedule, with games at Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgia, but also an easier game at home against Long Island. After five wins, and their first losing record in four seasons, Lewis left to take over as a coordinator for Deion Sanders at Colorado. Then the exodus started.
Twenty players left the program. Two starting offensive linemen went with Lewis to Colorado, while another tackle went to UCF. Their quarterback went to UCLA, while top wideout Dante Cephas went to Penn State. Even their kicker left, heading to Ohio State. In all, between transfers are graduation, the offense has been decimated. Their top quarterback threw 70 passes for 348 yards, three touchdowns, and three picks last year. The top returning running back at 211 yards, fourth on the team. The top returning wide receiver has four receptions for 51 yards. Kent State is dead last in college football in returning production, so new head coach Matt Johnson will have his work cut out for him.
Here are the College Football Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College Football Odds: Kent State Over/Under Win Total Odds
Over 2.5 wins: +110
Under 2.5 wins: -134
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Why Kent State Can Win 2.5 Games
For Kent State to win three games, it has to start with slowing down the offense. This was a fast pace and electric offense last year, but all the weapons are gone, and the defense is going to need the rest to carry the team. The line is still solid, as they had depth, but they no longer have that depth. Ky Thomas comes in from Kansas, and combined with Xavier Williams, Kent State should still have a solid running game. Still, if they try to run that fast-paced offense, they do not have the depth to do so this year.
The non-conference schedule does not help Kent State get there. They open on the road against UCF and then head to Arkansas. They will lose both of those, but get their first win of the season at home against Central Connecticut. Game four is back on the road to Fresno State and most likely another loss. The question then becomes are there two wins in the conference schedule? Miami (OH) is a winnable game for Kent State. Miami (OH) will have their quarterback situation figured out, but Kent State's has more upside. They can win this game if the quarterback if figured out by then.
After a loss to Ohio, there is another opportunity against Eastern Michigan. Eastern Michigan will attempt to run the ball heavily in this game, but if Kent State can stop the run and Samson Evans, they can get a second win here. The next key opportunity comes at Akron. The Golden Flashes have won four in a row over the Zips and will be in a prime position to do it again.
Finally, Ball State provides an opportunity. The offense for Ball State was also taken out by the transfer portal. The defense was not very good last year, and at this point of the season, Kent State should have their offense figured out. There are four winnable games in conference play, which could get Kent State to five overall.
Why Kent State Can Not Win 2.5 Games
Kent State has only one sure win on the schedule this year, and that is week three against Central Connecticut. They will lose the other three non-conference games. First, if there is any injury to the offensive line, they will have almost no chance to hit the over. They have almost no depth there and that would be devastating. Second, if Kent State cannot figure out their quarterback situation, they will have trouble moving the ball. They do not have a game-breaker at wide receiver and they will need their quarterback to do work. Finally, they need someone in the secondary to step up. If not, teams will go over the top on them all day, especially without a great pass rush.
That is what will happen against Miami (OH). Mac Hippenhammer may be gone, but this offense still has solid wide receivers. They can beat the secondary, especially if Gabbert has time in the pocket. With issues on the defensive line, Samson Evans will run all over Eastern Michigan. In a battle of two ground games, take the team with both the better back and better defensive line.
That means they need to beat Akron and Ball State to hit the over. Ball State is in a similar situation to Kent State, but nowhere near as bad. Ball State returns 57% of its production, while Kent State returns 25%. That is a drastic difference. Last year Ball State won this game and will do it again.
Final Kent State Over/Under Win Total Prediction & Pick
Kent State is in a tough situation. They lost so much that it is easy to see them winning just one game. At the same time, this is the MAC. Weird things happen in the MAC regularly. The cupboard is not empty at Kent State, and there are ingredients to work with. After Central Connecticut, Kent State gets a win over Miami (OH) and also takes out Ball State. That gives them three on the season and the over.
Final Kent State Over/Under Win Total Prediction & Pick: Over 2.5 (+110)