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Week Three Preview: Kent State

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Week Three is already upon us. For some of us, it couldn't have come any sooner after the events that took place in Week Two.

The Basics:

  • Records: ISU (1-1), Kent State (1-1)
  • Date: Saturday, September 19th, 2009
  • Location: Dix Stadium, Kent, OH
  • Time: 6:00pm CDT
  • TV: None, but is streaming online on ESPN360. Not all internet providers offer ESPN360, so check ASAP to see if you have it.
  • Line:  ISU -3, O/U 45.5
  • Key Players Out:  Eugene Jarvis (RB, Kent State), Giorgio Morgan (QB, Kent State)

At A Glance:

The story of this game, is whether or not ISU can break the 17 game losing streak. While night road games are no sure thing, especially for the Cyclones, and especially after watching Toledo take it to Colorado last week, I still think ISU will break this ridiculous streak. Kent State was a team that was not expected to do much in the MAC this year. They are now down their biggest playmaker in Jarvis and their starting QB in Morgan, yet some analysts are still slapping ISU in the face and predicting a Kent State victory. 

When these analysts are making these predictions, it sounds more like a lack of confidence in Iowa State than it is a vote of confidence for Kent State. I cannot find a single supporting bit of evidence online that backs up Kent State winning this game, other than pointing out how horrible Iowa State has been on the road.

This game is all about Iowa State to see if they can bounce back and pick up a couple of victories prior to conference play.

Things You Should Know , Keys to the Game, and My Prediction After The Jump!

Things You Should Know:

  • Iowa State is ranked 34th in rushing. A lot of hype revolved around the passing game, but ISU has averaged 197 yards/game, and 5.3 yards/carry thus far.
  • Kent State has a slow starting offense. They have not scored in the first half yet this year.
  • Kent State is starting a True Freshman at QB. Spencer Keith is 9 of 14, with 1 TD and 1 INT in his short career thus far
  • Eugene Jarvis' backup Andre Flowers is solid but not explosive. He is a junior that has averaged 3.5 yards/carry, and scored 6 TDs. You do not get much playing time behind such an explosive back in Jarvis. He can also catch the ball with 12 career receptions, so ISU will have to watch for him in the flats.
  • Kent State's D-Line is very undersized but athletic. Their average weight is 255lbs, with their DEs the size of some of their LBs, but have combined for 3.5 of Kent State's 5 sacks on the season.
  • Kent State's offense has really struggled. They average only 261 yards/game (vs. 372.5 for ISU). They have already punted the ball 18 times (vs. 9 for ISU) and has a 17% 3rd down conversion rate (vs. 41% for ISU).
  • Another Player to Watch For Is Tyshon Goode (WR). Goode is a freshmen emerging as a go-to threat with 10 catches for 110 yards thus far.
  • Kent State has an inexperienced O-Line. 2 Starters are Freshmen and the inexperience has shown, as they have given up 4 sacks.

Keys To The Game

These are what I see as things Iowa State must do a majority of to win:

  • Get off to a quick start offensivley.The Iowa State offense struggled both games to get going early (and last game didn't get going at all). With Kent State not putting up points early in games, if ISU can get rolling early, it would do a lot for the team confidence and putting the game away.
  • Run the ball. Against Iowa, we ran the ball well, but kept going to the deep pass too often and it cost us. If ISU can run the ball similar to how they have the first 2 weeks (which I think they can), they can control the game, limit turnovers, and ultimatley win.
  • Pressure the QB. With a True Freshmen in the pocket, I'd want to put tons of pressure on him to try and force the turnovers. Jarvis is out, so you don't have to worry about the explosive run. If the defense can force their QB into making some bad decisions and forcing turnovers, it could get ugly quick.
  • Protect Arnaud. So far this hasn't been much of an issue, but the matchup I am curious about are these linebacker-sized DEs vs. our huge O-Line. Will ISU's O-Line be able to keep these quick DEs in front of them?
  • Make the big play on special teams. Sims has been great on kick returns, and it may be only a matter of time before he breaks one. On the flip side, Kent State will be trying a new punt returner (as this was Jarvis' job in the past). With a lack of experience, can ISU capitalize on a mistake by this returrner or force a fumble?

Prediction

I think ISU answers the call, as this is a statement game. They want to prove that last week wasn't indiciative on how the season will go, and they want to break this 17-game losing streak, as it's a question you do not want to keep answering before every road game.

I look at this Kent State team, and they are really struggling offensivley. They haven't been moving the ball well, and now they are without a couple of their top guys. I just cannot see Kent State putting up a lot of points here.

Last year we beat them by 20 and that was with Jarvis and their former QB (now in the NFL as a WR) Julian Edelman but also included a couple of blocked punts and 4 forced turnovers. This year, their defense looks better, but their offense looks worse. We may not block punts nor cause a ton of turnovers, but this team just cannot move the ball consistently. If Iowa State's offense can stop shooting itself in the foot, I think they win this game.

I've got Iowa State 34, Kent State 10. If this is a close game (like many are prognosticating) it's going to be a very long year.