Kent State beat Utah State 51-41 in a fun offensive shootout. Here are the 5 things that matter in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.
Kent State 51, Utah State 41: 5 Things That Matter
Final Score: Kent State 51, Utah State 41
CFN Prediction: Utah State 37, Kent State 27
Line: Utah State -7, o/u: 72
5. Now that’s what you want to see in a bowl game
If it’s not the College Football Playoff, or the Rose Bowl, or a game between two brand-name powerhouses, you want a bowl game with a lot of energy, and lot of offense, and a lot of fun from both teams.
Kent State and Utah State might have just played the most fun game of the bowl season – at least, it’s going to be one of them.
92 combined points, lots of big plays, 1,056 yards of total offense, a history-making moment for one program, and the reason why you tune in for every bowl game, just in case you get something like this.
4. Kent State. Yes, Kent State
Kent State went 2-10 last season, and only had one win over an FBS team.
Kent State went 3-9 in 2016, and in 2015, and 2-9 in 2014, and on and on and on. The program had one winning season since 2001, and even then, the 2012 team that won 11 games lost its bowl game.
This football program that has been a model of futility for so long, was 0-3 in bowl games, and was 3-6 to start the season and getting rolled by Buffalo by 21 with fewer than eight minutes to play, is now a bowl champion for the first time ever.
This team that was destroyed by Arizona State, Auburn and Wisconsin by a combined score of 133 to 23 turned everything on in a brilliant bowl performance, and now it’s been able to do something historic, partially because …
3. Everyone came to see a top quarterback, and the other one took over
Utah State QB Jordan Love is an NFL-caliber starting quarterback with all fo the tools, and he was outplayed but the guy on the other side.
Love was good, but Dustin Crum was unstoppable on the other side.
The Kent State junior picked a brilliant time to put together the game of his life, completing 21-of-26 passes for 289 yards and two scores, and he led the team – and the game – with 147 rushing yards with a game-sealing touchdown. He seemed to make every right play, he picked up his game in the fourth quarter, and he made the offense rumble.
And now he’s the first Kent State quarterback to win a bowl game.
2. Jordan Love showed what he had to
It was a rocky year for the guy who went off for 32 touchdown passes and six picks last year – and helped get head coach Matt Wells the Texas Tech gig.
The 6-4, 225-pound Love threw 17 touchdown passes with six picks for a team that didn’t come up with a run for the Mountain West title like it was supposed to under head man Gary Andersen, and so this was big.
Love is an NFL scouting favorite as a likely mid-round pick with all the tools to be a great flier for someone to work with and develop after the Joe Burrows and Justin Herberts are long off the board.
Love’s team lost the game, but he completed 30-of-39 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns and a pick, and he looked the part.
Siaosi Mariner caught seven passes for 113 yards and two scores, but and the rest of the offense was great, but the defense didn’t give Love and company any help, because …
1. The FlashFast offense really, really worked
Sean Lewis is quickly going to be a red hot head coach.
He’s just 33, and in his second year as a head man he took Kent State from a nothing-burger to a bowl winner.
It might have taken a few miracles to pull this off this season, but his passing game came up with almost 300 yards, the ground attack rumbled for over 250, it came through with answers whenever needed, and it owned the fourth quarter with a fearless style that kept on coming.
There were a few red zone stops – Matthew Trickett hit all five of his field goals – but the offense that’s goes at warp speed had the ball for over 32 minutes, converted 7-of-15 third down tries, and came up with 550 yards of offense.
A whole lot of Group of Five programs would love to have this style of attack.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl Bowl History
Dec. 20, 2019 Kent State 51, Utah State 41
Dec. 19, 2018 Ohio 27, San Diego State 0
Dec. 20, 2017 Louisiana Tech 51, SMU 10