KENT STATE (5-4, 4-1 MAC) @ AKRON (1-7, 0-4 MAC)
Saturday, November 7, 2009 | 3:30 p.m.
InfoCision Stadium (30,000/ProGrass) | Akron, Ohio
Television: Fox Sports Ohio (Jeff Phelps & Hanford Dixon)
Radio: WNIR/100.1 FM (Tom Linder, Rob Polinsky & Ty Linder)
Series: Akron leads the series that began in 1923, 29-20-2. Akron leads the series in Akron 21-8-2. Since the teams have been playing for the Wagon Wheel in 1946, KSU has a 19-18-1 advantage. Akron has won 10 of the last 12 meetings overall and eight of the last nine games in Akron. This is the latest in the season that the two have played since 2005 when they met on November 24.
Last meeting: Akron 30, Kent State 27 (2ot) | October 4, 2008
Last meeting in Akron: Akron 27, Kent State 20 | September 22, 2007
Akron recent history: Akron is 49-65 since 2000. They are 38-39 in the MAC during that span. Akron is 28-20 at home since 2000. In 2005, J.D. Brookhart's second year, the Zips won the MAC East Title, then defeated Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game 31-30. The team then played in its first Bowl Game (Motor City), losing to Memphis 31-38. The team has finished at 3-5 in the MAC in the last three seasons.
KENT STATE Quick Facts
- Kent State has won three in a row for the first time since 2006, when they won five in a row.
- KSU is 4-1 in the MAC for just the seventh time in 58 seasons in the MAC. They join the 1954, 1958, 1972, 1973, 1977 & 2006 teams.
- QB Spencer Keith has completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 1, 538 yards, 11 TDs and eight interceptions.
- RB Jacquise Terry has 572 rushing yards on the season with 4 TDs while averaging 4.9 ypc.
- Coming off back to back career games, WR Tyshon Goode leads the team with 40 receptions for 553 yards and five TDs.
- LB Cobrani Mixon leads the team with 89 tackles while DE Monte Simmons leads the team with 7.5 sacks and 10 TFL.
- FS Brian Lainhart leads the MAC with five interceptions.
- Kent State and Akron have the third closest conference football rivalry in the nation with the campuses just 12 miles apart.
- Kent State's defense is first in the MAC in sacks (3.3) and tackles for loss (8.4) and rank sixth in the country in both categories. They have forced 20 takeaways, which are second in the MAC and tied for 13th in the nation.
AKRON Quick Facts
- Akron has led in the fourth quarter in two games this season before losing, at Buffalo and at Northern Illinois.
- Akron has not beaten a Division-IA opponent since they beat Toledo on November 5, 2008.
- Akron's only win this season was over FCS opponent Morgan State in the opening game of InfoCision Stadium. Since then the Zips have lost six in a row.
- It's been a rough season for the Zips. Starting QB Chris Jacquemain was dismissed from the team prior to the Indiana game. QB Matt Rogers, WR Deryn Bowser and LB Aaron Williams are out for the season with injuries.
- QB Patrick Nicely is 53-109 for 613 yards, one TD and two interceptions in his three plus games in 2009.
- True freshman Broderick Alexander burned his redshirt and started last week against Northern Illinois. Alexander ran the ball 19 times for 48 yards. Senior Joe Tuzze and redshirt freshman DeVoe Torrence lead the Zips in rushing with 167 and 146 yards respectively.
- Junior Jeremy LaFrance leads Akron with 27 catches for 308 yards.
- Brian Wagner leads the defense with 82 tackles and ranks second in the MAC with 10.1 tackles per game. He also has 4.5 TFL, two interceptions, a pair of forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
- Andre Jones has started three games at safety, one game at corner and has seen action as a wide receiver. He is 12th on the team with 21 tackles. At wide receiver, Jones has 13 catches for 297 yards and two TDs. He is one of two players in the nation to start at three different positions this season. Also, he is just the fourth player in the country to start on both sides of the ball. If that wasn't enough, he has also lined up at 'wildcat quarterback' and rushed two times for eight yards on the season.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR KENT STATE
SHUT DOWN THE RUN, PRESSURE NICELY - Kent State can't allow Akron's struggling running game to get going. Shuffling through tailbacks throughout the season, Akron is averaging 97 yards rushing a game, which ranks 11th in the MAC and 106th in the nation. If Kent State can do that, that defensive line and front seven can pin their ears back and get after true freshman Patrick Nicely. KSU leads the MAC and is tied for 6th in the nation with 30 sacks. Akron's offense has surrendered 23 sacks this season for an average of 2.8 a game, ranking 101st in the country. Monte Simmons has 7.5 sacks on the season and Akron's entire defense only has six. Kent State's front four/seven vs. Akron's offensive line could be the most interesting matchup within the game and it could decide who wins it. Kent State's defense needs to do what it's done well all season. That is put pressure on the quarterback which result in some sacks, then force turnovers.
BALANCE ON OFFENSE - Kent State needs to continue to have good balance on offense with their running and passing games. Much like the defense is trying to make Akron one dimensional, KSU's offense cannot be. Play makers like Tyshon Goode, Jacquise Terry and Sam Kirkland need to continue to make plays down the field, with the offensive line getting out and administering many good blocks down the field. Kent State needs to continue the improved percentages on third down conversions. Going 10-14 last week against WMU on third downs was easily the best mark of the season. Last week against Northern Illinois, Akron's defense appeared to get a little worn out in the fourth quarter after being on the field for so long, and gave up 21 fourth quarter points. Kent State needs to do the same on offense on Saturday.
SOLID SPECIAL TEAMS - Kent State needs to continue their special teams resurgence in 2009. Special teams is now a point of pride on the team, and it truly feels like it is a unit. In most games this season Kent State has made a big play on special teams (kick return for TD, big punt return, blocked kick TD, etc.). Last week against Western Michigan, Kent State's special teams simply was better then the Broncos and they allowed WMU to make mistakes. If Kent State's special teams can just out perform Akron's, the Golden Flashes have a good shot to win the game. Sometimes it isn't always about making the game breaking play, sometimes not making any glaring mistakes can help with the special teams battle too. If it comes down to a field goal this season, Freddy Cortez is an accurate 7-8 in MAC play. Kent State is 7-12 overall on field goals this season. Akron is 4-13 overall and just 2-9 in MAC play while using two different kickers.
WIN THE FIELD POSITION BATTLE - Kent State has done a good job on the three game winning streak of winning the field position battle. Thanks to the MAC's #1 net punting game led by Matt Rinehart, the Golden Flashes have been able to pin their opponents deep. With returners like Anthony Bowman, Dri Archer and Leneric Muldrow, KSU has the ability to gain field position. Akron has a very good return man as well. Dashan Miller returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in a loss at Syracuse. Akron is third in the MAC with over 22 yards per kickoff return. Kent State's 'sky kick' should help guard against a big return. Other things have helped KSU's field position game this season like sacks at opportune times and a defense that is second in the MAC in forcing turnovers.
TAKE BACK THE WAGON WHEEL - Akron has dominated this series as of late, winning 10 of the last 12 and eight of the last nine in Akron. Kent State's focus and resiliency has been great this season. I am not sure anything is going to get in their way right now with the way Doug Martin has them focused in. It is time for Kent State to earn back the Wagon Wheel and continue their quest towards a MAC East title this season.