13 Teams/13 Days Countdown: Kent State Golden Flashes

Updated 8/21/2013

Conference: MAC, East Division
Location: Kent, Ohio
Nickname: Golden Flashes
Returning starters: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)
2012 record: 11-3 (8-0 MAC)
Aug. 29 -- Liberty, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Sept. 7 -- Bowling Green, Noon (ESPN Regional)
Sept. 14 -- at LSU, 7 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU)
Sept. 21 -- at Penn State, TBD
Sept. 28 -- at Western Michigan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 -- Northern Illinois, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 -- at Ball State, 3 p.m.
Oct. 19 -- at South Alabama, TBD
Oct. 26 -- Buffalo, TBD
Nov. 2 -- at Akron, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 12 -- Miami, 8 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPNU)
Nov. 19 -- at Ohio, 8 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPNU)
SOCIAL MEDIA (Accounts to FOLLOW on Twitter if you are a Kent State Fan)
University Accounts: @KSUAthletics; @KentStFootball; @Coach_Haynes; @CarducciKSU; @Golden_Flashes
Media Coverage/Beat Writers: @SStormABJ; @AllenMoff_RC
Fan Accounts: @KSUKrew

In a nutshell: Kent State's going to take a slide after last season's amazing finish, with the level of decline contingent on several factors: how KSU reacts to the coaching change; what sort of impact Haynes can have on this defense; whether the running game will remain potent with Archer seeing more time in the slot; whether the Flashes' can get more from the quarterback position; and whether the ball will continue to bounce the team's way in 2013. The latter, the least tangible of the bunch, may have the heaviest impact on Kent's final record. Can KSU catch another round of breaks under the new staff?
In my opinion, Kent will win anywhere from four to eight games. That the team has so many questions still unanswered is to blame for the wide range: KSU could be again be a MAC contender should it land the same level of production from several key spots – several key spots breaking in new starters, especially on defense and the offensive line; KSU could also slide down to four wins should it fail to recapture its 2012 form against a far more imposing schedule.
The swing games will decide the Flashes' season: Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Buffalo and Miami (Ohio). I'm penciling this team in for losses to LSU, Penn State, NIU, Ball State and Ohio – because despite last season, those opponents are more solidly built than KSU. I also think the Flashes win games against Liberty, South Alabama and Akron, meaning the above quartet dictates whether KSU again reaches the postseason or falls shy of six wins. I'm a little hesitant to lean in either direction, though I think it's more likely that KSU tops out at five wins than gets to eight victories and one of the top two spots in the East Division.

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