What's at stake Saturday, you may ask.
Chiefly, the right to chant "Just like football" at opportune points during the basketball games. (At least someone gets bragging rights.)
Considering the teams are a combined 1-8 and 0-2 in the MAC, the above statement is a fair assessment of limited value of this week's rivalry game.
But I think there is more to this game. The winner becomes 1-1 in the MAC and has as much momentum as any other team in the division.
Suddenly, with a win against the rival and a win at Ohio (2-3, 1-1 MAC), Akron fans have a reason to -- you know -- show up at InfoCision Stadium.
Unfortunately, oddsmakers say Akron will lose by 17 points. In other words, if Kent doesn't rearrange Akron's incisors, experts will be surprised.
The Flashes' 2010 resume is better than Akron's, but it's still poor. The main difference is that Kent State took care of its task of beating a Division I-AA school (Murray State), while the Zips played patty cake with their friend Pedro and got their comeuppance for it. The Flashes were also more competitive in their road BCS games (losing by a combined 37 at Boston College and Penn State, while Akron lost by a combined 52 at Kentucky and Indiana).
Like Patrick Nicely, KSU quarterback Spencer Keith has struggled this season, aside from a strong opener against Murray State. Last week, Keith was 11-of-26 for 152 yards and two interceptions.
At running back, we might not see Eugene Jarvis. It appears that the sixth-year supersenior might not play because of a strained groin. He was cleared to play several weeks ago and decided to stay out. It probably won't matter, because Jarvis at 80 percent is equally effective as his backup Jacquise Terry at full strength.
Remember how coach Doug Martin threatened to "burn down" the NCAA if Jarvis wasn't allowed to return? You would think Jarvis would at least give it a go in the rivalry game for the man who threatened to commit a felony in his name. (Rob Ianello said he expects all of the "maybes" to play in a game like this.)
Speaking of felonies, Kent State features two convicted felons on defense. Cobrani Mixon and Brian Lainhart, who are Nos. 1 and 2 on the team in tackles, were accused of entering a dwelling that was not theirs without permission and beating the snot out of its inhabitants. They are a big reason that KSU leads the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (59).
(What's a fourth-degree felony in today's college football, really? They still know how to tackle, right? A Plain Dealer article this week praises Mixon's great physical attributes, so he's still got street cred.)
And in contrast to Jarvis, defensive end Monte Simmons returns on Saturday four weeks after breaking his fibula. Yeah, one of those two bones that connects your knee to your ankle. He tackles the player who throws the football, and probably does it as well as any player ever to put on the Kent jersey.
I don't know what kind of game to expect from the Zips. If they are awful on Saturday, it tells me that either the talent cupboard is bare or Ianello's staff has not maximized the value that is present.
Regardless, this game comes at a great time for both teams. It will be a springboard for one team -- and probably worth a little more than just bragging rights.
For instance, the results will be documented on Wikipedia.