Football: Ohio’s rush defense will be tested again against KSU

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Kent State (1-3, 0-0 MAC) at Ohio (3-1, 0-0 MAC)

Keys to the Game

Stop The Run

This is double important this week.  Ohio has given up over 150 yards on the ground the past two weeks (Rutgers 159, Marshall 172). You can think of this as a potential confidence builder; if the Bobcats can get their rush defense swagger back and shut down the Golden Flashes they could use the momentum as the ‘Cats move through conference play.

If Ohio does stop the KSU running game it will do more than just give the defense a shot of confidence, it will make Kent State extremely one-dimensional. The Golden Flashes have struggled to move the football this year, they average 92 yards on the ground and only five yards better through the air. Take away Kent State’s tandem of running backs (Trayion Durham – 151 yards, 0 TD and Anthony Meray -149 yards, 2 TD) and it will not have much to fall back on.  Through four games, quarterback Spencer Keith has completed just 45.9 percent of his passes for 388 yards with three touchdowns versus four interceptions. The Golden Flashes passing attack has not averaged many yards so far this season and Keith’s longest completion is just 21 yards, not too explosive so far either.

Get The Run Back

Donte Harden was absent from last week’s loss at Rutgers, but before getting injured midway through the Marshall game he was in the go-to running back role and he was fulfilling. Harden is expected to play Saturday, but you have to wonder what percentage he will be playing at. Kent State has allowed opponents to rush for 152 yards per game; expect Frank Solich to call for a healthy dose of run early, if it’s not there he knows he can cut Tyler Tettleton loose, which has worked pretty well so far.

Remember What They Did To You

Ohio had nearly punched its ticket to Detroit last year. The Bobcats rolled through their stiff competition in the East Division, they beat Temple; they beat Miami. The game was played the day after Thanksgiving and Ohio looked like it had a turkey hangover. The Bobcats committed four turnovers, scored six points and lost its shot at MAC championship with an abysmal performance at Kent. That game ended any hope of achieving what players work for all season long—a Mid-American Conference Championship. Players will not say they are thinking revenge in this game and if they aren’t, fine. Just remember what they did to you last year and play with a little extra fire.