Kent State releases the 2006 football schedule

Kali Price

With two bowl champions, one bowl runner-up, four new non-conference opponents and the Mid-American Conference champion, the Kent State football team faces a tough 2006 schedule.

Kent State Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said he is happy with the team’s schedule in a press release yesterday.

After finishing 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the MAC last season, Kent State opens the season with Minnesota of the Big 10 Conference Aug. 31 at home. Minnesota went 7-5 last season overall and finished No. 7 in its conference with an even 4-4 Big 10 record.

“For the first time in the history of the program, we will be hosting a Big 10 opponent in Dix Stadium,” Kennedy said. “We also have the opportunity to play against other quality non-conference opponents.”

Minnesota is coached by Glen Mason, who is in his ninth year with the Gophers. Mason was the head coach at Kent State for the 1986 and 1987 seasons. In 1987, he led the Flashes to their first winning record (7-4) since 1977. Since Mason left, the Flashes have only had one winning season in 2001 (6-5) under former coach Dean Pees.

After hosting the Gophers, the Flashes will head on a three-game road trip beginning with a game against Army Sept. 9 in West Point, N.Y. The game will be nationally televised on one of ESPN’s networks. Army closed its 2005 season with a 42-23 loss to Navy and a 4-7 record. Kent State visited Navy last October, but fell 34-31.

The Flashes begin their MAC schedule Sept. 16 at Miami. The Redhawks finished behind MAC East champion Akron in 2005 with a 7-4 overall record and 5-3 MAC record. Kent State will play its second MAC game at Bowling Green (6-5, 5-3 MAC) the following week.

One of the highlights of season will be the 48th annual Wagon Wheel game against Akron Sept. 30 at home. Akron and Kent State last played at the Rubber Bowl in Akron on Thanksgiving Day last season. The Zips beat the Flashes 35-3, then defeated Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship to secure a spot in the Motor City Bowl Dec. 26, 2005 in Detroit. The Zips lost to Memphis, 38-31.

“It will be exciting to host the defending MAC champions at Dix Stadium,” Kennedy said.

Kent State will go on the road again to Temple, a MAC football affiliate member, on Oct. 7. Temple will become a full MAC football member in the 2007 season. Temple only played four MAC teams last season and faces six this year. The Owls went 0-11 in 2005.

Homecoming for Kent State will be Oct. 14 when it faces Toledo. The Flashes did not play the Rockets last season.

“For the first time in more than 12 years, perennial MAC West Division power Toledo comes to Kent State,” Kennedy said. “These are great opportunities for the university and the community to support the team against outstanding competition.”

Toledo triumphed over UTEP in the GMAC Bowl, 45-13, Dec. 21, 2005 in Mobile, Ala.

The Flashes have the following weekend off to prepare for Ohio’s visit Oct. 28. The Bobcats had a 4-7 overall record and 3-5 MAC record, including a 35-32 victory over the Flashes.

Kent State will finish MAC East play at Buffalo Nov. 4. The Bulls only had one win last season, which was a 10-6 defeat over the Flashes Nov. 12, 2005.

In what is probably the toughest game of the upcoming season, Kent State will travel to Blacksburg, Va. to face Virginia Tech. With only two losses the whole season, the Hokies ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls. Virginia Tech closed out the season as the Toyota Gator Bowl champions with a 35-24 victory over Louisville.

The last home game of the season will be on Senior Day when Kent State hosts Eastern Michigan (4-7, 3-5 MAC) Nov. 18.

Kent State ends the season at Ball State (4-7, 4-4 MAC) on Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving Day, in Muncie, Ind.

Game times are yet to be announced.

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected]