Utah State (7-5) takes on Kent State (6-6) in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. Utah State finished the season strong by winning three of their last four games, and Kent State won their last three games of the season to finish 6-6, and become bowl eligible. Also, the Aggies are playing their eighth bowl game in nine years, as he Golden Flashes are 0-3 all-time in bowl games. As of writing this, 58 percent are going with the underdog Kent State to cover 5-points, and 59 percent think the game will stay under 65 points.
Date: Friday, December 20, 2019
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Location: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Coverage: ESPN 2
Utah State Analysis
Utah State’s offense has had some struggles this season. Currently, they rank 72nd in success rate, and 105th in explosiveness. Also, they average 25.2 points per game (85th), and 5.5 yards per play (75th). However, they do have an edge on Kent State’s defense. They should be able to run the ball as the Aggies rank 61st in success rate, and the Golden Flashes rank 123rd in stopping the run. Also, their offensive line should have the advantage of getting the push they need to get the ground game going. Utah State’s offense isn’t particularly great at anything, but Kent State has one of the worst defenses in the country. The Aggies aren’t going to move the ball up and down the field all game, but should be consistent throughout. They have averaged around two giveaways per game, so turnovers could become an issue if Kent State is able to force them.
The Aggies defense isn’t that great of a threat either. The rank 110th in success rate, and have allowed 31 points per game this season (83rd). However, their defense ranks 21st in limiting explosive plays. Kent State doesn’t have an explosive offense, as they just efficiently move the ball down field. Utah State will most likely struggle stopping the run. They rank 117th in limiting rushing success and allow 4.4 yards per rush (68th). They will be trying to stop an offense that runs the ball nearly 60 percent of their plays. Also, Utah State struggled to stop the pass this season as they ranked 85th in passing success. The Aggies are going to have a tough time slowing down the Kent State offense. Being able to limit explosive plays is nice, but this defense could be worn down by the second half.
Kent State Analysis
The Golden Flashes’ offense comes in scoring 27.5 points per game (66th) and averaging 5.5 yards per play (69th). They are a very average offense in those terms. However, they rank 43rd in success rate, and 40th in passing success, and 49th in rushing success. Kent State has shown they are able to move the ball, but rank 63rd in red zone scoring. They do struggle to finish drives, which is why they rank 66th in scoring offense. Utah State does rank 51st in opponents red zone scoring, so this is something the Golden Flashes will need to solve on Friday. Also, their offense is one of the worst in the country in protecting the quarterback. They rank 119th in sack rate, and Utah State doesn’t have a high sack rate, but does have a slight edge here. Kent State does keep the ball on the ground a majority of the time, so this might not have as big of an impact.
Kent State’s defense is one of the worst in the country. They rank 122nd in success rate, and have allowed 31.8 points per game (88th) and 6.3 yards per play (108th). There hasn’t been anything to write home about this defense except maybe their ability to limit explosive plays (50th). Also, they rank 122nd in creating havoc, and the Utah State offensive line should have a good edge over their defensive line. Now, the one thing Kent State needs to hope for is to create a turnover or two. The Aggies averaged two giveaways per game this season, so if a turnover falls in their lap, then it will be huge for their offense. There have only been two games where the Golden Flashes held their opponents to less than 20 points this season.
Betting Pick: Kent State +5
As bad as their defense is, I think Kent State will be able to cover the five in this game. Three of their losses came to Arizona State, Auburn, and Wisconsin, so this team has been tested by some of the best teams in the country. Also, Kent State went on a crazy three game winning streak to finish the season 6-6. Utah State doesn’t do anything particularly well on either side of the ball, and Kent State’s offense has looked great against MAC opponents. If the Golden Flashes force a turnover over or two, they could win this game outright.