Three-game winning streak is a result of being overlooked by opponents

Sean Ammerman

The one good thing about having a 1-10 football season is that no one expects anything from your team in the future.

Akron seemed unprepared for Kent State’s football team Saturday as it allowed the Flashes to drive up and down the field with ease. The Zips looked like they were prepared to play against the conference joke. Perhaps they thought this was the team they slaughtered 35-3 last year.

Akron is just now starting to notice that this Kent State team is truly different from the ones that have come before it.

On offense, the passing game is as good as the running game.

The defense has proven itself capable of holding a lead and even setting the offense up for points occasionally.

At the helm is a quarterback who, while prone to make an occasional wild decision, has the athletic ability and guts to do things that keep opposing defenses baffled.

And for the first time in years, Kent State had another dimension helping them out on the field: the fans.

After the game, Kent State coach Doug Martin said that Dix Stadium actually had an atmosphere suitable for Division I-A football.

“Our team and our students made this a very difficult place for Akron play at,” Martin said. ” That combination won the game.”

For the second straight home game, the Flashes brought in more than 20,000 fans. That might sound minuscule compared to the city-sized crowds at Ohio State or Michigan games, but it’s not bad for a Mid-American Conference team coming off a losing season.

Kent State never cracked the 20,000 mark last season, and it only brought in more than 10,000 once, for the homecoming game.

Maybe it’s the new Tailgate Alley, or the athletic department’s advertising campaign that is making a difference. But the real cure for fledgling attendance is a winning football team. Kent State has only had one since 1988.

When the wagon wheel changed hands at the end of the game, a modest slew of student fans rushed the field to support their team. One student thought the occasion important enough to take off his shirt and swing it over his head.

If the team improves its kicking game, and stops turning the ball over inside the 5-yard line, then Kent State will have no trouble winning the MAC East Division. It has been 34 years since the last time that happened.

But now that the Flashes have knocked off the top three teams in their division, according to the preseason coaches’ poll, people are going to have to start noticing them.

The secret should be out.

The last time Kent State football started Mid-American Conference play with three straight wins, most of our student body hadn’t been born yet.

In that 1977 season the team went 6-5, but lost four out of its last six MAC games.

Kent State players have mentioned the lack of respect they’re getting from other teams, coaches and the media. But in truth this could be a benefit. If teams don’t respect Kent State, then they won’t be ready for them.

Contact assistant sports editor Sean Ammerman at [email protected].