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Pregame Capsule: Kent State at UB

Kent State (1-4) at UB (1-3)

3:30 p.m. at UB Stadium.

Radio: 1520 AM. Online: ESPN3.

Last time out: UB had its worst offensive day in program history (67 yards) in a 35-3 loss at Boston College. Kent State gave up a 57-yard TD drive in the last minute to lose to Akron, 31-27.

Trending: Kent’s top two quarterbacks are out for the season with injuries. So Golden Flashes shifted slot receiver Nick Holley (No. 4) to QB last week and the results were fantastic. The 5-foot-10, 198-pounder  rushed 34 times for 117 yards and passed for 285 yards. He played QB in high school and passed for 1,087 yards and 19 TDs as a senior. UB must contain his read-option, running game. Most of his passing yards came on short throws to elusive freshman running back Justin Rankin (11), who had 181 receiving yards. . . . UB starting right tackle Tyler O’Henley (concussion) sat out last week and is questionable.

Stat check: Kent State produced 20 first downs at Akron, its most in the last 15 games. The Kent offense was abysmal the past two years. Was the Akron game an aberration? Or has this offense stumbled upon a path to success with Holley and Rankin?

Star gazing: The two big stars of the Golden Flashes’ defense are senior safety Nate Holley (18), the twin brother of the Kent QB, and senior defensive end Terence Waugh (51). Nate Holley was a first-team all-MAC pick last year and is second in the nation in tackles per game (14.6). Waugh has six sacks. Both of them are better than anybody UB has on defense. Kent likes to play man coverage. Are UB receivers capable of winning matchups on the outside?

At stake: How much hope is there for the UB season? We find out in the next two weeks when the Bulls face two teams picked below them in the preseason poll. (Ball State visits next week.) Kent State coach Paul Haynes is in his fourth season, so his building plan is farther along than that of Lance Leipold. Kent returns 16 starters from last year, including four on the offensive line. Kent’s defense is good but not quite as good as last year. But UB’s offense is not as good as it was last year. Both UB and Kent will view this as either a good win or a bad loss.

Prediction: Our crystal ball sees a 23-22 final. But for who? UB. But don’t take it to the bank.

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