Having not had a winning season since 2012, and going 2-10 last year, Kent State will start anew in 2018, with a new Head Coach and now the youngest coach in the FBS, 31-year old, Sean Lewis. Lewis has co-Coordinated Offenses with the now Syracuse and former Bowling Green Head Coach, Dino Babers, the last six years, and will look to bring that same high-flying, fast-paced attack back to the MAC at Kent State. The Golden Flashes are hoping that his youth will help breathe life into an offense that managed to only put up 12.8 points per game last year, worst in the entire country.
With only 13 returning starters, and not one single senior starting on offense, Kent State looks to be rebuilding in 2018, as they usher in a new era, and a new brand of football with Sean Lewis. They will, however, have a very highly touted prospect to build around at Quarterback, with Sophomore Woody Barrett joining the team from a junior college after redshirting at Auburn his Freshman year. There is reason for hope, long-term, but as far as this year is concerned, a season win total set at 2.5 games (+120, -140) at BetOnline tells you all you need to know about how good Kent State is expected to be.
Kent season win total bettors have a few things to consider before placing their wagers on the Flashes for 2018. The biggest question, I believe, is whether Sean Lewis and his new offensive scheme, with an SEC-level recruit at Quarterback, will have a quick enough impact to improve upon the two wins from last year, in year one, or if it’ll take more time to adjust to this new style of play. And finally, if you do think the impact will be immediate, are there even any spots on a very difficult schedule where we can expect that they have a decent chance of pulling off an upset, as a likely underdog in 11 out of 12 games?
|9/15||@ Penn State||+38.5|
|9/29||@ Ball State||+7.5|
|10/13||@ Miami (OH)||+16.5|
|10/30 (T)||@ Bowling Green||+9.5|
|11/6 (T)||@ Buffalo||+17.5|
|11/23 (F)||Eastern Michigan||+7.5|
Arguably College Football’s worst offense in 2017, and one of its worst the last five years (16.7 Points Per Game), has no where to go but up in 2018. With seven returning starters to compliment the aforementioned Woody Barrett, they should be better, especially with a now Offensively-minded Head Coach. Most of the playmakers from a year ago are among the seven returners, with the two leading rushers, and the top four pass catchers back.
The key for this offense will be how quickly it adapts to Sean Lewis’s up-tempo attack, for when you’re running an offense that requires a team to execute so many plays in a short period of time, some level of mastery is required. Unfortunately for Kent, Barrett is a Sophomore and has no experience with a system such as Lewis’s, so there will likely be a learning curve. Expect the Golden Flashes to usher what is being called the “Fast Flash Era” gradually, but improving as the year progresses, and definitely bettering 2017’s 12.8 points per game.
The defense in 2017, had its worst performance from a points per game perspective in quite some time, allowing 35.1, but these numbers were skewed a bit, having to play Clemson and Louisville, and allowing a total of 98 points in those two games alone. They were actually decent in-conference, finishing 5th in total yardage defense against the MAC, and that’s impressive when your offense is so bad. This year their offense should be better, but also will face a lot more plays considering the up-tempo attack to be employed. Having some experience, with seniors starting, and six starters returning, should help to ease the burden of adjusting to playing with a faster pace, but the defense overall could take a slight step back statistically.
While Kent State has many reasons to be optimistic, their schedule isn’t one of them, and is likely the main reason why their season win total is set so low. Having scheduled all three of their FBS non-conference games on the road against the Big-Ten and the SEC, you can chalk these all up as L’s and a likely a 1-3 start for Kent with the FCS game nestled in the middle of them. They’ll be underdogs the rest of the way, with the only real chances I see of them potentially pulling out a couple of wins being the game vs. Akron at home and Bowling Green on the road. Those three wins would be enough to get them over the 2.5 wins, but two of those would have to be upsets, and one of the upsets would have to happen on the road.
Season Win Total Pick: Very Slight Lean Under 2.5 -140
This is the slightest of leans for me, especially with that hefty tax attached to the under, but I certainly don’t see how you justify going over. With such a young team that will be adjusting to a new system, this has rebuilding year written all of it for Kent State, and their schedule is unforgiving of this fact. They’ll be underdogs in every game except one, and I just don’t see many windows of opportunity for Kent to steal a game or two. 2.5 is such a low number, though, that it allows almost no room for error, and going under with no margin for error is not something I’d feel nearly confident enough in doing to lay -140. There are still reasons to be excited for Kent State and bringing in a guy like Sean Lewis with an Auburn-level recruit at Quarterback could be the sparks that turn this program around. I really don’t like either side here.