The what bowl?
The Aggies learned their bowl destination during Selection Sunday: USU will travel to Frisco, Texas to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes on December 20th.
This is a relatively new bowl game. It was originally the Miami Beach bowl until ESPN bought the rights to it in 2017. With that taken into account, the bowl has only been around for six seasons. This year’s sponsor is Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s about the kind of game Utah State deserves after a disappointing 7-5 season.
Located in Kent, OH, the Golden Flashes have had an unimpressive 6-6 season. However, they do have an alright 5-3 mark in conference play, good for 2nd in the MAC east division. They’ve lost badly to all the teams they were supposed to lose to (at Wisconsin, at Auburn, at Arizona State) and they’ve beaten a couple of okay MAC teams (Buffalo, at Eastern Michigan). They had a shot to beat Toledo, but couldn’t finish a 2-pt conversion. Though they didn’t win the game, they did beat Toledo out for a bowl berth. All in all, the Golden Flashes are decidedly middle of the pack in the top-heavy MAC.
Is there history between these teams and will the game be any good?
There is minimal history between Utah State and Kent State. These schools have met twice, with both contests in the 1970s. The Aggies lost in 1973 in Logan, but got revenge the following year on the road in a close one. The burning question is this, though: is this game going to be any good? Well, if stats are to be believed, it could turn out to be a surprisingly decent match-up.
Kent State has a wholly decent QB in Dustin Crumm. The signal-caller has passed for 2,333 yards with a strong 18-2 touchdown-interception ratio, a far prettier number than what Jordan Love has amassed for the Aggies this year. On the other hand, Crumm has also been sacked 39 times. That unfortunate stat is good for the bottom ten in the NCAA. Against a USU defense that has struggled to get pressure, it will be interesting to see which opposing unit produces better: the Golden Flashes’ offensive line or the Aggie defensive line.
Stopping the run has been a major issue for Kent State. They’ve given up 2,992 yards on the ground this season, which averages to over 5 yards per opponent rush. Matched up against USU’s middling 84th ranked rushing attack, the Aggies may actually have a few struggles if Jaylen Warren isn’t healthy enough to back up Gerold Bright. Time will tell when these teams clash on December 20th.
I’m expecting a relatively even gridiron tilt. With that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if one team runs away with the score. Both of these teams have shown the propensity to get blown out in big games. Kent State hasn’t been bowling since 2012, so they’ll certainly have something to play for. USU needs to show up ready for a fight.
See you in Frisco. It beats freezing in Boise (sorry, Nevada).