The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (4-0 overall, 2-0 B1G), coming off a hard-fought win over the Northwestern Wildcats (1-3 overall, 0-2 B1G) last Saturday now turn their attention to their last non-conference matchup of the season.
The Kent State Golden Flashes (2-2 overall, 1-0 MAC), coached by former Badgers TE Sean Lewis, will enter this Saturday’s game as heavy underdogs. Kent State has been blown out by Auburn and Arizona State on the road, squeaked by Kennesaw State in OT at home and steamrolled Bowling Green in their MAC opener.
The Golden Flashes play fast on offense but have given up the most yards per game on the ground on defense in the whole country. Could be a tasty matchup for Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin offense.
Allen Moff of the Record-Courier in Kent, Ohio is here to give us the lowdown on what to expect when a former Badgers’ new team comes to Madison.
1) Who are the key Kent State players to look out for on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
Junior Dustin Crum has taken over as the starting quarterback, beating out 2018 starter Woody Barrett, and has set career highs in passing yards in each of his three starts. The Flashes offense also features a physical 230-pound running back in senior Jo-El Shaw, three small but speedy senior receivers in Mike Carrigan, Antwan Dixon and Kavious Price, and a deep threat with size in 6-foot-3 sophomore Isaiah McKoy.
Senior end Theo Majette is Kent State’s top defensive lineman. Nick Faulkner is a versatile playmaker at outside linebacker, while an experienced back end features Maryland transfer Qwuantrezz Knight at safety and senior Jamal Parker at cornerback.
2) What sort of schemes does Kent State run on offense and defense?
Kent State looks to play fast offensively, snapping the football in less than 14 seconds between plays when things are clicking. Defensively the Flashes play a 3-4, and like to bring assorted pressures while trusting their corners in man coverage.
3) Who should worry Kent State on Wisconsin’s offense and defense?
Obviously Jonathan Taylor is a major concern, but the biggest mismatch on paper is in the trenches. Only one player over 260 pounds sees much action on the defensive line for the Flashes, and he’s a true freshman (310-pound nose tackle Buddha Jones).
4) The Golden Flashes have had a brutal non-conference schedule, playing, and losing to, both Arizona State and Auburn, before their matchup with Wisconsin. What have the players and coach Sean Lewis (a former Badgers TE) learned from playing Power 5 teams?
They’ve actually found positives to carry out of each game. Their rush defense was solid against Arizona State. Their up-tempo offense enjoyed some success against Auburn. They’ve played so many games over the years in elite venues that they won’t be awed or intimidated by the environment on Saturday.
5) Are there any key injuries that Kent State has suffered? Who is stepping in to fill those holes in the lineup?
The Flashes have stayed about as healthy as realistically possible while facing their brutal early season schedule. Redshirt sophomore Sam Allan stepped in at left tackle for injured starter Jamil Viaud in their last game against Bowling Green and played well.
6) What are your predictions for the final score as well as players of the game for both teams?
Final score: Wisconsin 37-10. Players of the game, I’ll go with Taylor for Wisconsin and CB Jamal Parker for Kent State.