You may remember the simulation of the Kentucky vs. Louisville game from last Sunday by the WhatIfSports.com prediction engine. While the 23-18 final score was far off, the end result was dead-on: a solid Kentucky offense and a weak defense in a Louisville victory. Looking at the predicted stats, outside of Kentucky’s running game, the simulation actually underestimated the Cats’ offense, with the unit gaining more first downs, converting third downs at a better rate, and passing for far more yards than expected. The defense was overrated however, as the Cardinals were predicted to score 23 points total — not substitute their starting quarterback after three quarters with an 18-point lead.
Every week WIS simulates thousands of college football games. This week they predict Kentucky to win 19-13 over Kent State, with a 65.8% probability. The box score represents the average outcomes of the simulations.
Kent State battled Towson last week in a game headlined by Andre Parker scooping up a muffed punt and running the wrong direction. Aside from its hilarity, it is a good representation of where the Kent State football program is at. The offense for the Golden Flashes put up 41 points on a Colonial Athletic Association team with only 267 total yards of offense; 166 passing and 101 rushing. The defense hauled in six turnovers from Towson and the ball rarely needed to move far for a score. However the averages from their starters don’t fare well. Quarterback Spencer Keith averaged just 4.3 yards per pass and one touchdown. Running back Trayion Durham averaged 2.7 yards on 20 carries and no touchdowns.
On the other side, Kent State’s defense plays right into the hand of where Kentucky excelled against Louisville: the passing game. Towson’s quarterback Grant Enders torched the Golden Flashes for 246 yards on 26-of-36 passing. The Tigers running game, however, was even more dismal than Kentucky’s on Sunday, gaining only 70 total yards.
So the projection of Kent State’s 126 rushing yards and Kentucky’s 124 rushing yards seems a bit off.
However, the passing game for Kentucky should have no problem working the Kent State secondary, which begs the question why the prediction of 190 yards in the air is so low. Clearly the hurry up no-huddle works for Max Smith and his receivers — surely that will open up some holes in a Kent State defense that was burned by Towson.
It is difficult to tell based on week one what kind of offensive attack Kent State will bring. With six turnovers and a short field on seemingly every possession, it’s hard to get a true sense for how well they can move the ball. Regardless, it is SEC versus MAC. There are no excuses.