Flashes picked to finish third in MAC East

Lance Lysowski

Kent State coach Doug Martin said the Flashes third-place East Division rank in the Mid-American Conference Preseason Poll is not only a sign that the league’s media contingent is beginning to notice the program, but also a sign that the image of Kent State football is changing.

“I know when I first took this job, Kent State was picked last or next to last about every year,” Martin said. “In the last three or four years, we’ve been picked in the top three about every year.

“That is a statement about how far this program has come. The next deal is to get it over the top of that. It’s a sign that people have gained respect for what we’ve done.”

Temple, who features a dynamic offense lead by sophomore running back Bernard Pierce, was picked to finish first in the MAC East with 17 first-place votes. The Owls received a league-leading 11 votes to win the MAC Championship.

The Defending MAC East Champion Ohio Bobcats were selected to finish second, while receiving three first place votes. Northern Illinois received 15 first place votes to win the MAC West and appear in the conference championship.

Both teams picked to finish ahead of the Flashes feature playmakers on offense. The Owls’ backfield features Pierce, who rushed for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The Bobcats return scrambling senior quarterback Boo Jackson. Jackson appeared in only two games last year due to injury, but passed for a school record 2,355 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2008.

Senior safety Brian Lainhart said that the defense is up to the task of playing high caliber players, but they must be ready to play four quarters of football.

“You get excited to play teams with highly touted players to see where you stack up against,” Lainhart said. “We didn’t really finish games last year. Not just Bowling Green, but if you look at Akron and Buffalo.

“Buffalo had the ball with a minute and 30 seconds left with a 6-6 tie, and they drove sixty yards to kick the field goal with one second left to win the game. We can’t just be good for three quarters. “

The Flashes return nine starters on offense and seven starters on defense. Leading the pack is sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith. Keith, who passed for 2,147 yards and 12 touchdowns in ten games as a true freshman, is the Flashes’ unquestioned leader on offense.

“Experience is a big plus when it comes to college football,” Keith said. “I feel like I’m adjusted to the speed of the college game; it’s a little different than high school. I know what to expect from different defenses and the size of the players.”

Although the Flashes failed to receive a first place vote, Martin said the team possesses two attributes that MAC schools in past years had that lead to success.

“When you look at the recipe for success in this conference it always seems to be teams that play really good defense and have an experienced quarterback,” Martin said. “That’s what we’ve got. I like the way our schedule sets up. We were playing great football last year until Spencer got hurt for the last three games. If we can get back to where we were at that time, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Team (First Place Votes)


1. Temple (17)– 137 points

2. Ohio (3)– 116 points

3. Kent State– 94 points

4. Bowling Green– 74 points

5. Miami– 53 points

6. Buffalo– 48 points

7. Akron– 38 points


1. Northern Illinois (15)– 115 points

2. Central Michigan (3)– 83 points

3. Western (3)– 77 points

4. Toledo– 75 points

5. Ball State– 50 points

6. Eastern Michigan– 20 points

Marathon MAC Championship Game Winner

Temple 11, Northern Illinois 5, Ohio 1 (three voters did not choose a winner for MAC Championship)