Auburn Hosts the Golden Flashes.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Auburn Hosts the Golden Flashes.

Auburn and Kent State meet for the first time.

     War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers host the Kent State Golden Flashes, in an SEC vs. MAC preseason tuneup, hopefully. The Golden Flashes come into this game at 1-1, and are looking for a big payday against the Auburn Tigers. After the game in Auburn, the Kent State will host Bowling Green as the season gets started in the Mid-American Conference. Kent State has played a Power Five opponent already this season, and got blown out at Arizona State, 30-7 in the season-opener. There are a couple of positive ways Auburn can approach this game. It could be used as a glorified practice, to try and improve on issues. Or, Auburn could try to jump on the Flashes early, take a big lead and rest the starters. The worst case scenario would be to put forth a bad effort, and struggle in this game.

     Auburn is on pace this season to have the worst offensive output in the Gus Malzahn era, since the 2011 season. In 2011, Auburn managed to score just 25.7 points per game. This year’s edition is currently averaging 25.5. The worst output in the Malzahn head coaching era was the 2015 season, at 27.3. At this point in the 2015 season, Auburn was averaging 29.0 points per game.

     Except for brief flashes, Auburn has struggled to move the football consistently against both opponents this year, especially in the first half. I’d like to be able to write that Auburn will go to a more “pass first” strategy this week, and actually lean on the most dangerous scoring threats on the team. However, I’ll believe it when I see it. Look for more of those mind-numbing handoffs up the middle, with 3 wide receivers against a loaded defensive box.

     Kent State has struggled on offense this year, and has a bit of a quarterback controversy. Former Auburn player Woody Barrett started both games this season, but was benched against Kennesaw State, and watched as replacement quarterback Dustin Crum led an effort that resulted in a 26-23 overtime win. Kent State is much like Auburn, in that they are really struggling to run the ball, averaging only 3.5 yards per carry.

     Defensively, Kent State usually runs a 3-man front, but I’d expect a lot of bodies around the line of scrimmage till Auburn makes them back off. Conversely, I expect the Auburn defense to severely limit what Kent State can do on offense. Auburn’s first two opponents have been forced to mostly throw short passes, and try to eek the ball down the field a little bit at a time. That did not work well for Tulane last week.

     It was interesting when I did a web search about Kent State Football. It took 5 pages of scrolling before I found any newsbits about the team. What filled the first few pages of results was complaints about Kent State ending an overtime field hockey game, so that fireworks could be shot off at the football stadium. I suppose administrators can make bone-headed decisions anywhere, even in north east Ohio!

     The weather should be hot again for this game. It is expected to be partly cloudy for this game, with a high in the upper 80s around kickoff. Temps will fall into the 70s after sunset. There should be full moon rising at sunset, and should rise above Jordan Hare Stadium after halftime. We will have our usual Open Thread up and running for this one. I will be late to this effort, as duty calls on Saturday. I should be able to pick up the play by play around the middle of the second quarter.

A look at other SEC games this weekend, after the jump!

     It is mostly cupcake week in the SEC, and around the nation as well. I believe I saw it penned that there is not a single matchup between Top-25 teams in the entire nation, this weekend. SEC action begins at 11:00 Central Daylight Time when Arkansas State visits Georgia. Considering that the Red Wolves have already lost to SMU this season, I don’t expect UGA to have much trouble with them.

     Also at 11:00 AM Central Time, Tennessee hosts Chattanooga. After UT’s big loss to Georgia State, could it be possible for the Vols to lose to the Mocs? I kind of doubt it. The Mocs were blown out by Jacksonville State last week.

     Probably the best of the early games might be Kansas State at Mississippi State. The Wildcats have demolished both of their non-conference opponents, while MSU has been less than dominant. Still MSU is at home, and one would think that a baking, humid summer day in the South would favor the Bulldogs.

     Alabama at South Carolina is the CBS game, this week, at 2:30 PM Central. I’m not sure this game will even be close for a quarter. The Gamecocks have quarterback Ryan Hilinski getting just his second start, and his first against a team of consequence.

     Southeastern Louisiana visits Ole Miss, and Colorado State visits Arkansas in the 3:00 PM time slot. I’d be shocked if the Rebel game is competitive. The Razorbacks vs. the Rams is more worrying. Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo hasn’t won as much as that fanbase would like, but he should have sufficient experience against suspect SEC defenses to have his team move the ball. Bobo was a good coordinator at Georgia during the Richt years. Can Arkansas keep up at home?

     In addition to Auburn beginning play at 6:00 PM, Florida visits Kentucky. The Wildcats upset Florida last year in the Swamp, and I’m sure the Gators would love to flip that script. Neither team has been terribly impressive thus far this year, but I think Florida has better players.

     Lamar visits Texas A&M at 6:00. The Aggies should have no problem in this game.

     In 6:30 PM cupcake action, LSU hosts Northwestern State, and Missouri hosts Southeast Missouri State.

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