Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Akron Zips
Date and Time: Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 7 p.m. ET
Location: InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH
Opening College Football Odds: Akron -15
Kent State vs. Akron TV Coverage: ESPNU
With Thomas Woodson suspended, Akron didn't figure to have much of a shot against an Ohio team that looked to easily be the most dominant in the MAC East this year. The Bobcats were 14.5-point home favorites and were supposed to easily win the division with a victory.
Instead, Kato Nelson flipped the script, throwing for 322 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-34 upset. Akron became the first team this year to effectively make Nathan Rourke a one-dimensional mess, and that proved to pay massive dividends even though it had a tough time slowing him down when he was on the run.
Now, the reward is a spot in the driver's seat. The Zips haven't won anything yet; they've only merely assured themselves a spot in a bowl game. That said, a win (or an Ohio loss to Buffalo on Friday) would win the division title and setup a showdown with either Toledo or Northern Illinois next Friday night in Motown.
Kent State hasn't had the greatest season in the world, but taking hated Akron out of the MAC Championship Game would at least be a solid ending and offer something to build off of heading into 2018.
The Golden Flashes have been pathetically bad this year. They average just 280.1 yards per game and allow nearly that many yards on the ground (227.1). The offense has only mustered 16 touchdowns this year, and no player on the roster has more than four scores.
With Nick Holley lost early in the season to a knee injury, KSU has been largely influx at the quarterback position, and that hasn't helped matters at all in a frustrating 2-9 campaign.
It was the Akron defense that finally showed up a bit against Ohio last week, and that's going to be the key to victory in this game as well. Even though the Zips scored 37 points against the Bobcats, they're based on their defense and won't win many games when they let teams get into the 30s in scoring.
Akron's defense might rank No. 105 in the land in yardage, but it's a disproportionate No. 59 in scoring defense at 25.7 points per game. Part of the reason for this is because the unit has come up big when it has had to on huge downs, including getting a fourth down stop against the Bobcats late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win last week.
Kent State vs. Akron Free Picks
"Rivalry Week" across college football gets started on Tuesday night. Though the Wagon Wheel rivalry game isn't going to get nearly as much notoriety as any of the other top games on the docket throughout the weekend, this is a big one, and it's effectively the Super Bowl for the Golden Flashes.
Kent State has been beaten in each of the last two seasons in this series, but last year's 31-27 game easily could have gone either way.
Just as the Flashes came close last year, we suspect they're going to do the same this time around.
Ohio caught Toledo napping after its big win over Northern Illinois. Akron caught Ohio napping after its big win over Toledo. Now, it's Kent State's turn to catch Akron napping after its arch rival thought it had effectively won the MAC East.
Take the points at your favorite online sportsbook.
College Football ATS Pick: Kent State +15 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Kent State 27, Akron 20