MACtion is back.
Ohio will travel to Kent State Saturday, marking its first Mid-American Conference game of the season. The game is an important one and will likely set Ohio’s tone for the rest of MAC play.
It will also show how well Ohio can fare against a strong Football Bowl Subdivision offense. Kent State has averaged 27 points per game this season against some of the country’s best football teams.
Here is everything to know about Kent State before Saturday:
Sean Lewis’ fifth season as Kent State’s head coach has been nothing short of an uphill climb. Lewis has coached the team through two games against Top 10 opponents, as well as current No. 15 Washington. Even though the three games all ended in losses for Kent State, there were a lot of positives. It scored 20 points at Washington, and put up 22 points against the No. 1 team in the country, Georgia.
When Lewis was hired by Kent State in 2017, he was the youngest head coach in the FBS at age 31. Despite his young age, Lewis has had a good amount of coaching experience. Kent State is his first head coaching job, but the institution is happy with the work Lewis has done for the team so far. In 2021, he signed a contract extension with Kent State through 2025.
Collin Schlee has started in all four of Kent State’s games, with his most notable being against Long Island. In that game he completed 10 passes for 199 yards, averaging almost 20 yards per pass. Schlee also ran for 75 yards on four attempts.
Schlee’s passing statistics didn’t look all that different in Week 4 against Georgia. He completed 14-21 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown. However, his run game was far less successful against the Bulldogs, as he only ran for two yards on seven attempts.
Freshman Devin Kargman has also had some time at the quarterback position this season. He’s played in three of Kent State’s games, and even had a touchdown pass against Long Island.
Schlee has split his targets pretty evenly between redshirt juniors Dante Cephas and redshirt sophomore Devontez Walker. Cephas has 17 catches for 255 yards, while Walker has 15 for 246.
Schlee looks for Walker when throwing the ball deep downfield. His longest pass to Walker this season was for 56 yards. Walker also leads the team with three touchdown catches.
Stopping the Golden Flashes run game is going to be key for the Bobcats Saturday. The Golden Flashes utilize their run game more than almost anything else. They have 169 rushing attempts so far this season, the most in the MAC. The Golden Flashes also lead the MAC in rushing yards with 757.
Cooper Marquez has 270 of those yards and has been handed the ball 72 times. He also leads the team in rushing touchdowns with four.
Despite playing arguably the most difficult nonconference schedule in the MAC, Kent State’s defense is ranked third in the conference in scoring, only behind Miami and Toledo. However, that might not be saying much. Every team in the MAC has allowed over 100 points throughout their first four games.
If Ohio wants to win at Kent State, its offense is going to have to step up again like it did Saturday against Fordham. Despite its defense allowing 52 points, Ohio was still able to come out with a win thanks to Kurtis Rourke’s 537 passing yards and ability to not waste time in the beginning of the game.
Rourke and the Bobcats moved downfield quickly for back-to-back touchdowns on their first two drives. Those 14 points were their lifeline for the rest of the game as the Rams kept eating away at the Bobcats' defense.
Ohio’s defense is going to have to make some stops or its going to have another high scoring game.