Thursday night MACtion on the campus of Kent State, as the Toledo Rockets stay in the state of Ohio in Week 12 of the college football schedule. It’s beyond me how this year is moving this fast. Bowl season is almost here, and it feels like we just opened the season a couple of weeks ago. It certainly doesn’t feel like we’re a week away from the final week of the regular season. Then we have conference championships and the Army-Navy game before the bowls.
Bowl season provides college football nearly everyday through the holiday season, so it’s not all that bad. Toledo needs another win to get to 6 wins on the year and an invite to a bowl game. They’ll wrap up the season against Central Michigan in the final week. Depending on how other teams do who are in a similar position, the Rockets may get passed over if they finish 6-6. Note that one of their wins was against Virginia Military early in the first week of the season, a non-FBS team.
Toledo are favorites against Kent State on Thursday and likely are going to be favorites against Central, so it shouldn’t have to go down to a 6 win record. Kent State were an embarrassment in the MAC last season, as they finished with a mark of 2-10. They’ve been more competitive in 2018, but are in danger of finishing with the same record.
They’re in all likelihood heading to a 2-10 final record. With a matchup against Eastern Michigan next week, they’ll need to pull an upset in the next two weeks to get to 3 wins and exceed their performance from last season. However, they accomplished something in the sense that they made something out of games this year. They lost by a point in overtime to Akron, 24-23, and a point to Ohio, 27-26. Last season Kent State didn’t have many answers. They have more of a quarterback at quarterback, rather than a running back, so the offense has been better.
They used a variation of the option a year ago, where they sent a wide receiver in motion often. It didn’t work much at all, but they had no QB to air it out or do anything to fool defenses. Auburn transfer Woody Barrett has taken the majority of the snaps in 2018, but was benched against Buffalo last week in favor of Dustin Crum. Nevertheless, Barrett has given the Kent State a quarterback who can at least stand in there and complete a pass. Head below for our free Toledo vs. Kent State for Thursday night in the MAC.
Toledo Rockets vs. Kent State Golden Flashes NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Kent State +13(-105)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Toledo vs. Kent State Pick:
Barrett has thrown 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions with a 59.8% completion. That doesn’t look great or even good, but compared to what they were doing offensively last season, that’s a big improvement. Barrett figures to improve for next season as well. Instead of in the bottom 100 teams in college football, Kent State are 94th with 372 yards per game. The passing game is averaging 202 yards per game. In other words, there is still a lot of work left to do, but there are improvements despite their record. They are coming off a blowout loss to Buffalo last week, 48-14.
The Rockets suffered a 38-15 loss against Northern Illinois last week, so neither school have much momentum going into Thursday night. Kent State are losers in seven of their last eight games. Their only win in the MAC came against Bowling Green two weeks ago. The other victory was vs Howard in Week 2. For Toledo, they just ran into a really good defense last week.
Northern Illinois boasts a talented defense, so it wasn’t surprising to see Toledo struggle. With Mitch Guadagni out with a shoulder injury, first-year player Eli Peters has been getting some valuable experience. He has been with Toledo for two years, but hadn’t thrown a pass before this season. Peters threw for a touchdown and no interceptions against the Huskies. Wide Receiver Diontae Johnson is going to have more fun against the Kent State defense than Northern Illinois. Toledo have averaged 439 yards per game for 39th in the FBS and 38.6 points scored for 14th.
Peters is going to find it easier to find yardage against a Kent State defense who are 118th in the nation. The Golden Flashes have struggled defending the pass and run, so look for Toledo to establish a ground game with Bryant Koback and Art Thompkins, then Peters connecting across the middle of the field. A major issue for Kent State offensively has been protecting Barrett behind the line of scrimmage. He has been getting smoked with 36 sacks. That is 3.6 sacks per game, 126th in the FBS.
This isn’t a team who passed the ball at all last season, so the offensive line has had issues adjusting to pass protection. Note that the Rockets can get after the quarterback, with 25 sacks for 36th in the FBS. Look for Toledo to get back on track at Kent State. I think the odds makers are a few points too short with this line. A 38-17 final or thereabout looks likely, so -13 on Toledo is a solid play in the MAC on Thursday night.