Kent State heads down to Akron for a weeknight rivalry clash this Wednesday (11/1/23) at7:30 p.m. Get Kent State vs. Akron odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is under 38.5 points.
Kent State vs. Akron Prediction
College football fans across the country- but especially the Midwest- can rejoice that the long wait is over; weeknight MACtion is back this week. Tuesday is the first day of this joyous tradition, but Wednesday will include one of the conference’s oldest rivalries, Kent State against Akron.
Kent State (1-7) looking for its first win against FBS competition, will travel just 20 minutes down the road to play rival Akron (1-7). The Zips also have just one win. Both sides – ranked second and third in ESPN’s most recent “Bottom 5” – will also be fighting for the Wagon Wheel, an incredibly fun Midwestern rivalry trophy.
It’s been an absolutely brutal season for both teams. For Akron, this is just par for the course. The Zips last won won more than two games in 2018, with an 0-12 campaign mixed in.
Akron has had some close calls mixed in this year. The Zips came three points away from a win to open the season against Temple, lost to Buffalo by the same margin and to Central Michigan by just a touchdown. It even took four overtimes for Big Ten squad Indiana to dispatch Akron, so it hasn’t been a totally flavorless campaign.
None of that is even remotely true for Kent State. The Golden Flashes are coming off of a period of unprecedented success, including a rare string of winning seasons, the school’s first-ever bowl victory and even a spot in the MAC championship.
Even last season, they were a competitive squad in the conference, and went a respectable 5-7. Now, everything is completely different. Revolutionary head coach Sean Lewis is gone, as are both coordinators, as is essentially every starter and contributor from last season. Nobody has been hit harder by the transfer portal than the Golden Flashes.
The results have been predictable. One win, over FCS Central Connecticut, and not a single close game against FBS competition. A rivalry win would take a ton of the sting out of the continuous defeats for Kent, or Akron for that matter. In a game that is still winnable for both sides due to their relatively equivalent incompetence, the stakes are actually very high. The entire season for both teams boils down to these 60 minutes.
It’s hard to make a pick in this one. Akron’s offense has been completely stagnant since losing quarterback DJ Irons to a season-ending injury. Kent State is just a nightmare in general. The Zips do have a surprisingly solid defense, but it’s hard to trust them to find the winning plays on the offensive side, so we’re just going to play the under in a matchup where both defenses should have the edge.
Kent State vs. Akron Prediction: Under 38.5 (-110)
Kent State vs. Akron Team Best Odds
Akron is a 3.5 point home favorite, or -175 on the moneyline. Kent is +145 to win, and with the total set at 38.5 points, both sides have -110 odds to hit.
Kent State vs. Akron Key Matchups
With two offenses that look like they’ll really struggle to move the ball and score, who will find the key plays it will take to come out on top? Let’s check out some positional matchups that will help answer that question.
Akron Rushing Offense vs. Kent State Run Defense
After losing last year’s top wideout Shocky Jaques-Louis to graduation, and Irons to that injury, the Akron pass offense is essentially punchless. Other quarterbacks for Akron have combined for three touchdowns and nine picks through the air. The ground offense has been much more efficient, 44th in the country in EPA per play, as lead back Lorenzo Lingard has been solid. Irons was a major rushing contributor.
The Zips will be going against a Kent State run defense that has also been a relative strength, ranking 62nd in EPA per play. That’s pretty impressive considering most opponents have spent much of the game running out the clock. D-lineman CJ West has been a bright spot, with an average depth of tackle under 2 yards, while safety Bryce Sheppert has done a good job cleaning up the messes left by the front seven.
Kent State Passing Game vs. Akron Air Defense
After running one of the most prolific and efficient air attacks in the nation during the Sean Lewis era, Kent State’s offense has fallen off in a big way. But the passing unit is still probably stronger than the ground game. This is due in part to an absolutely abysmal offensive line, the fourth-worst run blocking unit in the country as per PFF. They’re not much better at pass blocking, but wideout Chrishon McCray has still found space quickly enough to be relatively productive; he’s snagged 35 passes for 449 yards thus far, both team-highs.
On the other side of the ball, Akron’s pass defense ranks a shocking seventh in the country by EPA per play. It’s important to note that this statistic is not opponent-adjusted, and the Zips haven’t exactly played world-beaters, but that’s still an impressive achievement for a squad with few other positives. PFF considers them to have both a decent secondary, headlined by top corner Darrian Lewis and pass rush, so it’s probably going to be a rough day for Kent’s passers in many regards.