WHO: Kent State Golden Flashes (1-1)
WHEN: 2:30 PM CT (Saturday, September 18)
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network (TuneIn, or local listings) | SiriusXM Ch. 195
MOBILE: Fox Sports app
TWITTER: @IowaFBLive | @IowaAwesome | @IowaOnBTN
WEATHER: sunny, highs in the low 80s
LINE: Iowa -22.5 (TOTAL: 56)
What to know about Kent State? The Golden Flashes are averaging 35 ppg and 510 yards per game through two games this year, but those numbers are skewed by their 60-10 victory over VMI last week. They racked up 698 total yards (494 on the ground) and 60 points in that game. They weren't quite so productive in their first game of the year, when they had 336 yards and 10 points in a 41-10 loss to Texas A&M. They did have 226 rushing yards in that game. Big rushing totals has been a thing for the Golden Flashes, though -- they ran for 200+ in all four of their games in 2020 and in six of 13 games in 2019.
Iowa's run defense has historically been very stout under Phil Parker and this year's squad is off to a good start -- they're 25th nationally, but averaging just 82 yards per game allowed. Indiana ran for 77 yards on 31 carries (2.48 ypc), while Iowa State was at 87 yards on 27 carries (3.22 ypc). Indiana and ISU have some strong running backs -- Stephen Carr and Breece Hall, respectively -- so Iowa hasn't been shutting down bums. Still, Kent State's rushing totals are no joke, so Iowa's run defense will need to be on point today.
On the other side of the ball, Kent State is leading the nation in total takeaways (9) and interceptions (8). They got four interceptions against both A&M and VMI. Iowa has done a good job of avoiding turnovers this year -- just two fumbles (one by Tyler Goodson and one by Ivory Kelly-Martin). Maintaining that trend today will be important -- Iowa doesn't want to give Kent State any short fields or cheap points.
How does Iowa lose this game? Turnovers and falling behind early on the scoreboard, probably. Iowa is at their best when they can play from ahead; going behind early and forcing Spencer Petras to throw more in an effort to come back does not sound promising.
That said... this team is worth believing in. The defense is a brick wall and while the offense has, uh, struggled, I do think they'll have more success against Kent State's defense than the sturdier Indiana and Iowa State defenses. I don't feel great about Iowa covering a 22.5-point spread, but I do think they win by at least two scores.
IOWA 38, KENT STATE 20