This year the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl features a matchup between two teams looking to finish 2019 strong, the Utah St. Aggies of the Mountain West Conference and the Kent St. Golden Flash of the Mid-American Conference.
This will be the third match-up between the two programs, but they haven’t faced off since the 27-24 win for Utah St. back in 1974.
For the Aggies and head coach Mark Anderson, this will be the eight bowl game in nine seasons for the program. It also marks a successful returning to Logan, UT, for Anderson after brief stints at Wisconsin and Oregon State. Despite losing his best defensive player and enduring some offensive struggles, Anderson found ways of keeping his team together, and the 38-25 win over New Mexico State to end the regular season has the Aggies looking for more as the 2019 season comes to a close.
The Golden Flash travel to Texas as one of the hottest Group of Five teams in the nation, having won its final three games to finish the season at 6-6. For head coach Sean Lewis making it to a bowl game in his second season at KSU is an excellent accomplishment after winning only two games in 2018.
Players to Know
Jordan Love Quarterback- Redshirt JR
Love has already declared for the 2020 NFL Draft and will go down as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Aggies history. Despite only playing three seasons at Utah St. Love will finish top three in all-time yards and touchdowns.
Siaosi Mariner Wide Receiver- So
After only making 17 catches for 2019 yards in 2018, Mariner became Love’s favorite target in 2019. The sophomore increased his output significantly in 2019, making 56 catches for 874 yards and eight touchdowns.
Tipa Galeia Defensive End- Senior
As one of three DFW players on the roster, Galeia looks to end his college career on a high note in front of friends and family. The Euless, TX native may not have put up the stats he did in 2018, but his importance to this defense cannot be denied. His presence was felt versus New Mexico State as he finished the game with five tackles and two sacks.
Davis Woodward Linebacker – Redshirt JR
Even though he is not playing due to injury, Woodward still has to be mentioned as one of the key players on the team. To show the level of respect he has within the Mountain West Conference, he was named all-conference first team despite missing the last five games of the season. Even in limited action, Woodward led the team in tackles and forced fumbles, but he was second in sacks and had the team’s only defensive touchdown.
Dustin Crum Quarterback – JR
After seeing limited action his first two seasons in Kent, OH, Crum took his game to the next level in 2019. This season Crum completed 68% of his passes for 2,333 yards, 18 touchdowns, and only two interceptions — and he was the teams leading rusher with 560 yards and three touchdowns. Whether it’s through the air or on the ground, the success of the Golden Flash offense works through Crum.
Isaiah McKoy Wide Receiver – SO
Crum did a great job in distributing the ball to multiple receivers, but his favorite target is McKoy. The sophomore from Brooklyn, NY, finished 2019 with 51 catches for 767 yards and seven touchdowns. McKoy can make the timely catches but can also make big plays as he’s had five games with a reception over 40 yards.
Mandela Lawrence-Burke Linebacker – JR
After joining the KSU program as a wiry safety, Lawrence-Burke has bulked up to become a linebacker that still has enough athleticism to make a difference in many ways. He led the team in tackles this season and was second in sacks.
Theo Majette Defensive End – SR
Majette may not have the stature of a traditional defensive end (5’11, 238 pounds), but he continues to find ways to be productive. Leading the team in sacks this year with five, Majette is someone that Utah State will have to make sure it doesn’t overlook.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
Love has to limit his turnovers: After throwing an uncharacteristically high 16 interceptions this season, Love has to have the patience to settle for the safe play. The gunslinger mentality may yield some success, but it will lead to ill-advised turnovers that could be costly
Overwhelm the smaller Kent St. defense: Love is the leader of this offense as the quarterback, but if Utah State wants to win, it may have to lean on its run game to get the job done. Kent St. allows over 240 yards per game, and this will be a perfect opportunity for senior running back Gerold Bright to add to his season total of 827 yards this season. If he reaches 1,000 yards, it is safe to say the Aggies ran away with this game quickly.
The defense rattles Crum: Kent St. has a potent passing game, but the best way to slow it down is to limit the time Crum has in the pocket. Expect Coach Anderson to try to put Galeia in the position to harass Crum all evening.
Big plays all day: The Golden Flash offense has shown all year that they are no stranger to big plays if they can pull off at least three plays over 30 yards that will negate needing long scoring drives, which will be hard against a stout Utah St. defensive front.
Be WILLing to run the ball: Crum has had a productive season, but there has to be balanced in the Golden Flash offense, and that will come from effectively using senior running back Will Matthews. Matthews missed the first five games of the season but still finished the year with 514 yards and two touchdowns. In the last two games of the regular season, Matthews rushed for 159 yards on 28 carries. Committing to the run and giving Matthews at least 20 carries will go a long way in helping Coach Lewis get a signature win early in his career.
Force turnovers: The Flash aren’t known for turnovers — only six interceptions on the year — but if they want to pull off this upset, they will have to force Love into multiple turnovers. One can expect to see cornerbacks Keith Sherald JR. and Jamal Parker taking turns trying to slow down Mariner, if either can add to their interception totals, it will make things interesting.
With both quarterbacks having the ability to sling the ball around to multiple receivers, this will turn out to be a more exciting game than fans are expecting. However, the size of Utah St. will prove to be too much, and after a thrilling aerial assault in the first half, the Aggies will rely on its running game late to wear down the Golden Flash. Utah St. 45 Kent St. 30