2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 7 Game Notes: Kent State Golden Flashes to Western Michigan Broncos

Kent State will travel to western Michigan on Saturday to face the Broncos for the first time since 2017. In a game that could be a preview of the conference championship game in December, West Michigan is looking to get back on track. on track after a disappointing 45-20 home loss to Ball State last week. Kent State appears to have put their offense on track last week in a back-and-forth affair with Buffalo, with the Flashs amassing 633 yards of total offense on their way to a 48-38 victory.


PLAY NOTES

  • Time and date: 3:30 p.m., Saturday October 16, 2021
  • Network: ESPNU
  • Site: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Difference / Total: West Michigan -6.5, O / U 64.5
  • Last meeting: November 8, 2017 – Western Michigan 48, Kent State 20
  • All-time series: Western Michigan leads, 35-20-1

NUMBERS

Offensive points per game:

· Kent State: 28.0 (t-4e in the MAC)

· Western Michigan: 25.5 (7e in the MAC)

Defensive points per game:

· Kent State: 29.3 (9e)

· Western Michigan: 25.5 (5e)

Yards per game:

· Kent State: 464.2 (1st)

· Western Michigan: 403.5 (4e)

Yards allowed per game:

· Kent State: 449.0 (12e)

· Western Michigan: 315.3 (2sd)


Kent State players to watch

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

WR Dante Cephas: Pittsburgh’s second wide receiver has developed really well over the past three weeks. Cephas torched the Buffalo high school for 13 catches, 186 yards and three touchdowns last week, and has 29 catches for 391 yards and four scores in the Golden Flashes’ last three games. He currently sits fourth in the MAC in receiving yards at 484. In a team with a number of talented wide receivers (Keshunn Abrum and Nykeim Johnson are lethal), Cephas has become QB Dustin Crum’s favorite target. Speaking of quarterback position …

QB Dustin Crum: The 2020 first-team all-MAC signal caller appeared to find his rhythm last week against Buffalo, finishing 22 of 36 for 407 yards and three scores in what was his first 400-yard game of his career. Crum had a slow start to the season, although much of that could be attributed to the Golden Flashs’ incredibly difficult non-conference schedule, which included trips to Texas A&M, Iowa and Maryland. Crum is also a legitimate double threat and is the Flash’s second-best rusher, with 71 carries for 283 yards and two scores this year. Western Michigan faced strong quarterbacks with Ball State’s Drew Plitt, San Jose State’s Nick Starkel and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, but none of those three present a double threat like Crum does.


West Michigan players to watch

Tyler carlton

QB Kaleb Eleby: Eleby had a rare week off last week against Ball State, completing 19 of 33 passes for 257 yards and two interceptions. Eleby had only thrown five career interceptions at the start of the game, but relentless pressure from Ball State’s top seven caused all kinds of trouble for the normally efficient caller. Eleby still leads the MAC in passing yards at 1,438 and completes 61.8% of her passes with nine scores and two interceptions. Eleby should be able to turn the boat around this week as the Golden Flashes drop 255.7 yards per game in the air. This number is good for 11e in the MAC and 101st naturally.

RB La’Darius Jefferson: A second-team player at the MAC last season, Jefferson is the Broncos’ top rusher with 435 yards and eight points on 106 carries. His eight rushing touchdowns are the first in the conference and he’s been a consistent player despite the up-and-down nature of the Broncos game this year. If there’s a week that Jefferson can break out, this is it. The Golden Flashes boast 107e ranked rush defense in the FBS, allowing 193.3 yards per game rushing.


Where they stand

Western Michigan entered last week’s game with Ball State on a four-game winning streak, but their momentum was quickly cut short by the 45-20 loss. A bad game doesn’t make a bad season, and many of the problems that plagued the Broncos last week are fixable. Notably, they need to do a better job protecting Eleby, who has been sacked four times against the Cardinals. Western had only given the ball once all season before last week, and last Saturday’s four giveaways are an exception to their norm. If the Broncos can protect Eleby and avoid turnovers, they’ll give themselves a chance. All of the Broncos’ goals (read: getting to Ford Field) are still ahead of them.

Kent State struggled to get through the aforementioned schedule out of conference, going 1-3 against stiff competition. The Flashes have found their place in the conference game, currently sitting 2-0 atop the East Division. The defense has done a great job creating turnovers but hasn’t had much success elsewhere, and the offense is the bus driver here. Dustin Crum and company seemed to have hit their stride last week, and the Flashes will establish themselves as the favorites to win the conference if they can grab a road victory this week at Kalamazoo.


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