Utah State vs Kent State: Three Things to Watch
Aggies take on Kent State in Frisco looking to start a new Bowl win streak
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Love, Aggies take on Kent State in the deliciously titled Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
Bowl season kicks off Friday with Utah State featured in one of the first games of college football’s extended postseason. The 7-5 Aggies will face 6-6 Kent State with the aim to begin a new bowl victory streak under head coach Gary Andersen, and send notable junior QB Jordan Love into the 2020 NFL draft with as much positive momentum as possible. Here are three key reasons you should tune in:
Reason no. 1: Frankly, both teams really need this win
Kent State fought its way into bowl consideration by earning three straight victories to cap its regular season, salvaging a year spent spiraling in the wrong direction and resulting in this weekend’s chance for the Golden Flashes to finish above .500. The Aggies surprised with some huge road victories against SDSU and Fresno State but also crashed and burned at home against BYU and Boise State for a confusing year with Love and Andersen at the helm. The result is a matchup of hungry teams looking to end things on a high note after falling short of larger goals.
Reason no. 2: Both teams like to keep the score uncomfortably close
Since the Golden Flashes came alive against Buffalo, they’re 3-0 with an average margin of victory hanging around 4.6 points. The Aggies, winners of three of their last four games, boast the exact same average margin in each of those wins and a 3-1 record this year in one-score games. It appears both of these contenders tend to play to their opposition, which could lead to a spicy offensive showcase between a pair of capable QBs and struggling defenses.
Speaking of QBs, Kent State’s dual-threat Dustin Crum has pieced together a strong junior year for the Flashes, tallying 2,333 passing yards, 18 TDs and 2 INTs with a 68.2% completion rate and a team-leading 560 rushing yards and 5 TDs on the ground. This is a game Utah State should probably win, but a capable opposing QB and the propensity to leave the door open for teams could keep things tense through all four quarters.
Reason no. 3: Jordan Love’s pre-draft body of work is critical
A rocky 2019 campaign has made Love’s draft stock noticeably more volatile than other passers in his class. Anything he can do to silence critics and appear less risky on draft day will impact his professional future, and it starts Friday against a defense he should be able to pick apart with ease. Finding proven weapons Siaosi Mariner and Caleb Repp early and often won’t necessarily erase concerns over his up-and-down year, but will add a measure of confidence to his obvious arm talent.
The Flashes are particularly vulnerable against the rush, so don’t count Gerold Bright out of this one either — in fact, a monster game from Bright could put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season (currently at 827), but ultimately this is a prove-it game for Love and he knows it.