Football takes on Buffalo in the final game of the year

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

After its loss to Eastern Michigan on Nov. 16, Kent State football is already out of bowl eligibility.

But Buffalo, the Flashes’ final opponent of the season, is not. The Bulls must beat KSU to qualify for a bowl game.

Buffalo is 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the MAC. The team hasn’t played since Nov. 9, when its game against Akron was rescheduled due to a snowstorm in Buffalo.

“My whole business is that the way we prepare and go about our business with the sense of urgency – we have is to live those core values in every moment of everything that we are doing,” coach Sean Lewis said. “That shows up with a well-prepared, well-trained team.”

The Bulls have two more games left and have to be .500 to be bowl eligible.

The Flashes are 4-7 on the year and 3-4 in the Mid-American Conference.

Kent State’s “FlashFast”offense

Leading the KSU offense is:

  • Redshirt junior quarterback Collin Schlee, the eighth in the MAC in passing with 2,095 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is 16th in the MAC in rushing with 448 yards and four touchdowns.
  • Junior running back Marquez Cooper, the nation’s 15th leading rusher with 1,186 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is second in the MAC in rushing.
  • Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Devontez Walker, who has the most receiving yards in the MAC with 837 and is second  among receivers in touchdowns with 10. He ranks 34th in the nation in receiving yards.
  • Redshirt junior wide receiver Dante Cephas, who has missed two of the Flashes’ past four games. He left early in the other two. He leads the MAC in receiving yards per game, averaging 82.7. He has 744 receiving yards on the year, which is sixth in the conference.

There is no update on Cephas’ status.

KSU is 22nd in the nation and first in the MAC in rushing yards per game. The team averages 201.7 rushing yards.

Kent State is second in the MAC in total yards per game with an average of 422.8 yards. KSU is the MAC’s fifth-best scoring offense, averaging 28.3 points per game.

Running with the Bulls’ offense 

Buffalo is fourth in the MAC in total yards per game 387.9 yards. The Bulls are the MAC’s third best scoring team, averaging 29.8 points per game.

Junior quarterback Cole Snyder leads the Bulls’ offense as the fourth best passer in the MAC. Snyder has 2,336 passing yards and 14 touchdowns.

“The quarterback is a dual-threat kid,” Lewis said. “He can hurt you in a lot of different ways and they have an offensive line that is really starting to come together.”

Buffalo is the fourth-best passing team in the MAC, averaging 236.5 yards per game.

The team has seven receivers with over 100 yards.

Graduate student wide receiver Justin Marshall is the program’s leading receiver with 614 yards and six touchdowns. He is the MAC’s 12th-leading receiver in yards.

Graduate student wide receiver Quian Williams has 550 yards and four touchdowns. He is the MAC’s 16th-leading receiver.

“They distribute the ball well and have a lot of talented kids,” Lewis said. “The quarterback has accounted for and hurt teams in a lot of different ways with 14 touchdown passes and four rushing touchdowns as well.”

Senior running back Ron Cook Jr. leads the team in rushing with 600 yards and is ninth in the MAC. Cook Jr. has four touchdowns on the year.

Redshirt freshman running back Mike Washington is the second-leading rusher with 547 yards and seven touchdowns. He is the MAC’s 12th leading rusher.

Redshirt freshman running back Al-Jay Henderson is the third-leading rusher on the team with 260 yards and three touchdowns.

UB is the MAC’s sixth best rushing team with 151.4 rushing yards per game.

Buffalo’s strong secondary, weak rush attack 

The Bulls rank fourth in the MAC in passing defense, giving up just 219 yards per game. The team is tied for fourth in the MAC in interceptions with nine.

“They are certainly a default aggressive group,” Lewis said. “They pressure a little bit more than the other teams in the league which gives them an opportunity to generate those turnovers.”

Junior safety Marcus Fuqua is a big part of the passing defense. He leads the MAC in interceptions with five and seventh in passes defended with 10.

Kent State has seven interceptions on the season, tied with four other teams for seventh most in the MAC. Redshirt junior cornerback Montre Miller has two interceptions on the season and is 16th in the MAC in passes defended with 6.

The team has 23 sacks on the season, sitting at ninth in the MAC. Senior defensive linemen Saivon Taylor-Davis ninth in the MAC in sacks with five-and-a-half.

Buffalo will have trouble against Kent State’s rushing. Buffalo is the worst rush defense in the MAC, surrendering 183.8 yards per game.

KSU gives up a lot of yards in the passing game. The team is the second-worst pass-defense, giving up 282.4 yards per game. Despite giving up a lot of yards, the Flashes are very opportunistic.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday in Buffalo.

“It is a great opportunity down the stretch to play with passion and pride,” Lewis said. “It is going to be a great opportunity to go and compete.”

Jacob Hansen is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]