116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This is the first in a 12-part series ranking Iowa’s most-tantalizing football games.
Naturally, we’ll start with No. 12.
Sept. 18: Kent State
Frankly, I’m not sure a team that gave up 70 points to a Mid-American Conference brother is ready to go to Kinnick Stadium and compete with a good Big Ten team.
Those feelings will be solidified or changed two weeks earlier when the Kent State Golden Flashes play at Texas A&M.
Then you look at the history between Kent State and Iowa and see the Hawkeyes won the two previous meetings by a combined score of 90-7.
But the main reason this game will hold relatively little interest is its spot on the schedule. It isn’t a season-opener, with the enthusiasm that accompanies it. Rather, it’s Game 3, the Saturday after Iowa plays at Iowa State and two weeks after Iowa starts things at home against Indiana.
Win or lose in Ames, there will be a hangover effect for fans and media. Whether that translates to the team itself remains to be seen.
Now, is Kent State a lousy team like it has been so often in the past? Say, 2013 through 2018, when its overall record was 16-55? No, not at all.
Under fourth-year coach Sean Lewis, one of the few bearded major-college football head coaches — and a fine beard it is — the Flashes won their last four games in 2019, including a 51-41 triumph over Utah State in the Frisco Bowl.
Do you remember that game? My face is red because I do not. Perhaps I should have used the bowl’s full name, the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have.
Jordan Love, now the heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers as the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, was Utah State’s QB that night in Frisco, Texas. Or that day. I don’t know when they kicked off.
Love completed 30 of 39 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. He wasn’t the best player at his position that game.
Kent State’s Dustin Crum completed 21 of 26 passes for two TDs without a pick, and he rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown that secured the win. He is the only Kent State quarterback to win a bowl game.
Crum completed 73.5 percent of his passes last season and his team averaged 49.8 points per game. It played four games, won three. The finale was a 70-41 loss at Buffalo in which the Flashes allowed 515 rushing yards. Ouchie!
Crum has career totals of 35 touchdown passes and six interceptions. That’s six interceptions over 483 pass attempts. That’s quite good. He also rushed 44 times for 240 yards, which is 5.5 yards a carry. That’s quite good.
As I type this, I’m starting to warm to this game. Wait, I just reread the thing about allowing 70 points and 515 rushing yards to Buffalo in Kent State’s most-recent game. Never mind.
Toss-up questions: Doesn’t it seem right that a team called “Buffalo” should be good at running? And isn’t Dustin Crum a great name?
Kent State averaged 607 yards per game — that’s right, 607 — last season, first in the nation. Know that the Flashes played just four games, all against MAC teams. Its last game against a major-conference team was a 48-0 loss to Wisconsin in 2019, preceded by a 55-16 loss at Auburn, preceded by a 30-7 loss at Arizona State …
Look, somebody had to be No. 12 on this list. Kent State won’t mind. It’s taking this game for money, not glory. If it can compete, all the better.
Favorite names on Kent State’s roster:
Wide receiver Ja’Shaun Poke (who averaged 81.5 receiving yards per game last year)
Wide receiver Dante Cephas
Linebacker Mandela Lawrence-Burke
Cornerback Elvis Hines
Defensive end Reignings Awah
I’m sorry to Kent State about this, but here’s what still comes to mind when I hear the school’s name:
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