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The Kent State Golden Flashes will head on the road to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday evening for a tough non-conference battle versus the No.8-ranked Auburn Tigers. After opening the season with a marquee win over No.11 Oregon, Auburn avoided an upset in Week 2 and they will have to do so again here against a Kent State team that won their first game of the season last week. Can Auburn take care of business at home versus the Golden Flashes on Saturday night?
Auburn dominated Tulane 24-6 in Week 2 behind another stout defensive performance. While the offense lacked an identity for the second week in a row, the Tigers held Tulane to just 223 yards of total offense and limited them to just two field goals on the day. Running back Jatarvious Whitlow helped the Tigers move the ball on the ground, tallying 96 yards and a touchdown in the win, but three fumbles (two lost) marred his afternoon.
Kent State earned their first victory of the season over Kennesaw State last week, as sophomore kicker Matthew Trickett connected on his fourth field goal to win it in overtime 26-23. Fellow sophomore Isaiah McKoy led the team in receiving with seven catches for 125 and a touchdown, while quarterback Justin Crum threw for a score and ran for another to help the golden Flashes even up their record on the year. After tallying -3 yards passing in Week 1, it appeared that Crum failed to win the quarterback job. Yet, he earned all the reps under center versus Kennesaw State over former Auburn backup Woody Barrett.
Barrett appeared to be the better option in Week 1, completing 9 of 16 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown versus Arizona State. He had a shaky start to the game, fumbling on the first play from scrimmage and completing just one of his first six passes, but rebounded by completing eight of his next 10 attempts before being benched.
Lewis mum on QB situation heading into Auburn matchup
Kent State made the national headlines for all the wrong reasons last week after school officials cancelled a women’s field hockey game Saturday to set up fireworks on a nearby field prior to the football team’s home opener over Kennesaw State.
Head coach Sean Lewis has been non-committal about his quarterback situation after seemingly making the switch to backup Dustin Crum last week. It will be interesting to see whether Lewis gives Barrett, a transfer from Auburn, the chance to win back the starting job against his former team on Saturday.
Lewis told reporters during his weekly news conference on Sept. 9 his team has “two really good quarterbacks. We’re going to play them both, and we’re going to find a way to win by playing them both.”
Last week, Crum orchestrated a 49-yard drive in the final 1 minute and 47 seconds to set up the game-tying field goal and eventually send Kent State to their first win of the season.
Nix, Gatewood give Auburn 1-2 punch at quarterback
Despite leading the Tigers to back-to-back wins to start his college career, freshman quarterback Bo Nix has left something to be desired with his performance through two games. He showed some swagger and grit with his Week 1 heroics versus Oregon, but finished the game just 13 of 31 passing for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He followed that up with a lackluster performance against Tulane, completing 19 of his 37 passes for 207 yards and a score. Nix has a 47.1 completion percentage through two games, which could become an issue once conference play rolls around next week. The Tigers open the SEC season versus No. 16 Texas A&M.
Backup dual-threat quarterback Joey Gatewood saw his first extended action of the season versus Tulane, helping the team burn clock with a healthy fourth quarter lead. Gatewood led a 14-play, 55-yard drive, helping Auburn kill the final 8 minutes and 15 seconds, while finishing with six runs for 21 yards on the day. Gatewood was tabbed as one of the nation’s breakout players to watch heading into the year, but he lost the starting job to Nix during fall camp and elected not to transfer. The 6-foot-5 quarterback is considerably taller and faster than Nix and could earn more of a role as the season moves along.
Standout wide receiver Seth Williams has been ruled out of the team’s contest versus Kent State this Saturday after leaving the game against Tulane last week. Williams made a deep catch near the goal line, but left with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return to the game. He was later seen in a sling on the sidelines and after the game, meaning someone else will have to step up in his place.
Gus Malzahn talks about trying not to look ahead to their SEC opener next week.
“I think it is more our team — they understand that we need to improve each week. It doesn’t matter who we are playing this week, they know we need to improve and really that’s our message. So if we are a mature team like I think we are, we will go out and play good football and improve and not look ahead. I have not heard one of our players say anything about our next opponent, have not heard one of our coaches say anything, so we are taking this thing game by game. Each week in all three phases, the goal is to improve, and I really do think we have a mature enough team to get that done.”
- Tigers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Tigers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Golden Flashes are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs. SEC.
- Golden Flashes are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Golden Flashes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.
Updated on Sep 14 at 8:30am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
Auburn has gone from -35 up to -35.5 while getting 68% of the bets. The Sharps are on the side of the Golden Flashes in this one.
Injury / Weather Report
Kent State’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: NT Dominic Hill
Auburn’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: WR Ja’Varrius Johnson
Out: WR Shedrick Jackson and WR Seth Williams
Gametime Weather: Partly cloudy and in the lower 80s.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Kent State gave up a whopping 252 yards on the ground to Kennesaw State, which is going to be a major issue against a potent Auburn rushing attack. Jatarvious Whitlow finished with 110 and 96 yards in his first two games, respectively, but could be in for a much bigger day here. Expect Auburn to dominate on both sides of the ball en route to blowout win here. Take the Tigers to cover the spread at home against a Kent State team still searching for an identity (and a quarterback) heading into Week 3.
Prediction: Pick: Auburn Tigers -35.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Auburn limited Tulane to just 223 total yards last week, including only 103 through the air. Tulane also finished just 2-for-17 on third and fourth downs in a 24-6 loss. So, I suspect Kent State will have a tough time moving the ball against this Tigers’ defense, especially with Crum under center. The Golden Flashes needed a comeback and overtime to beat Kennesaw State at home last week, but they won’t get very much sympathy on the road at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Week 3. Take this game to stay under the projected total on Saturday night.