Week 9 - Kent State at Rutgers

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction – Kent State at Rutgers

Kent State (6-1) at Rutgers (7-0) Oct. 27, 3:30, SNY

Here's The Deal: Having lost just a single game between them all year, Kent State and Rutgers meeting in Piscataway is one of the more intriguing under-the-radar games of Week 9.

The No. 15 Scarlet Knights have continued their ascent in the polls, while remaining one of the nation's final 11 unbeaten programs. They overcame a slow start in Philadelphia to zoom past Temple, 35-10, for just their third 7-0 start since 1976. Rutgers will play back-to-back non-conference home games before beginning a three-game final kick that'll determine if a first-ever BCS bowl game is in their future.

While it won't get nearly as much pub, the Golden Flashes have been as big a surprise as the Scarlet Knights this fall. Kent State is already bowl eligible for the first time since 1972, when Don James was leading the program to its only MAC championship. Winners of five straight for young head coach Darrell Hazell, the Flashes expect a better showing versus a BCS opponent than their 47-14 loss to Kentucky in Week 2.

Why Kent State Might Win: Hazell has his offense rolling this season, averaging 40 points over the last month behind one of the country's most productive ground games.

Ultra-versatile Dri Archer and 250-pound Trayion Durham are both on pace to smash the 1,000-yard mark on the ground, wearing down offenses with their quickness and bulldozing style, respectively. The Golden Flashes are also capable of narrowing the gap on more talented teams with their ability to dominate turnover margin. Kent State is No. 9 nationally in takeaways and No. 7 in turnovers lost, getting a spate of big plays out of a defense that recovered three fumbles and picked off three passes in last week's win over Western Michigan.

Why Rutgers Might Win: It's going to take more than a one-dimensional offense to solve the Scarlet Knights D.

Rutgers boasts one of the country's top defensive units, a physical group allowing just 69 rushing yards and 11 points per game. What happens if Kent State runs head on into a brick wall in the form of linebackers Khaseem Greene, Jamal Merrell and Steve Beauharnais? Don't expect QB Spencer Keith and the 105th-ranked passing attack to be the solution. The Golden Flashes haven't seen a D nearly as stout as the one they'll face on Saturday afternoon. Heck, when they played a poor Kentucky team back on Sept. 8, they only managed to put up 14 points, which won't bode well for this week.

What To Watch Out For: The Kent State defense has been stingy, yes. But air-tight? Not even close.

The Golden Flashes are beatable in myriad different ways, and have produced just seven sacks in six games with FBS opponents. Rutgers will look to pick up where it left off at Lincoln Financial Field, when Gary Nova threw four touchdown passes, and Jawan Jamison registered his sixth 100-yard game of the year. The size of the Knights receivers, such as Brandon Coleman, Tim Wright and Mark Harrison, will present a particular problem for the Kent State defensive backs.

What Will Happen: Kent State is having an outstanding year, but Rutgers' biggest challenge on Saturday might be fending off malaise.

The Scarlet Knights are rising in the rankings and dreaming of a Big East title, so a late October visit from a MAC team might make for a short attention span On the Banks. The Flashes, on the other hand, will be fired up to face a Top 25. The enthusiasm will help for a while, but not long enough to result in a massive upset. Rutgers will corral the Kent State ground game, while cranking up its own offensive attack to gradually pull away for a comfortable eighth win in a row.

CFN Prediction: Rutgers 30 … Kent State 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Rutgers -13 O/U: 44.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 2.5