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2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Kent State

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(6-6) Wyoming faces off with MAC runner-up (7-6) Kent State

NCAA Football: Potato Bowl-Central Michigan vs Wyoming Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

What: Wyoming Cowboys vs. Kent State Golden Flashes

When: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 1:30 p.m. M.T.

Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID

Network: ESPN

Betting Lines: Wyoming -3.5 O/U 59 Odds/Lines subject to change. All odds Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

This Tuesday, the Wyoming Cowboys will face off for the first time against the Kent State Golden Flashes in the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Golden Flashes are led by fourth-year Head Coach Sean Lewis and are coming off of a loss in their conference title game to the Huskies of Northern Illinois. On the other hand, Craig Bohl’s Cowboys will be traveling back to Boise’s blue turf having not played football since November 27th when the Pokes dropped their season finale to the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Wyoming finished its regular season campaign with a record of 6-6. Craig Bohl has now led the Cowboys through four consecutive bowl-eligible seasons, a feat no Wyoming coach had accomplished before. For Kent State, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will mark their 2nd bowl appearance in three years. It will be their first bowl appearance since winning their first-ever bowl in school history in the 2019 Frisco Bowl against Utah State.

What to expect from Kent State:

The Kent State Golden Flashes came into their 2021 campaign with high expectations following a couple of solid winning seasons under Head Coach Sean Lewis. Those expectations were seemingly met after the Golden Flashes ended their 2021 regular season with a 7-5 record, a MAC Conference Championship appearance, and an East Division title. A lot of that success was due to the high-powered offense that KSU can put on display. KSU Quarterback Dustin Crum has undoubtedly been key to that success. Through 13 games, Crum completed 64.2% of his passes and finished with 2,922 yards through the air while accounting for 27 total touchdowns (16 pass, 11 rush). The dual-threat QB led the Golden Flashes to a national ranking of 8th in total offense and a 32.6 points per game average. Another huge offensive contributor in this game will be running back Marquez Cooper. Cooper rushed for over 1,000 yards this season and was instrumental, along with Crum and fellow running back Xavier Williams, in leading the Golden Flashes to a 4th-best ranking in average rushing yards per game. As good as this KSU offense can be, it’s their defense that will need to step up in order to win this game. KSU is in the bottom-15 when it comes to total defense and points per game allowed. They are also terrible against the run, ranking 102nd in opponents yards per carry. Expect Wyoming to exploit them heavily on the ground.

What to expect from Wyoming:

The Wyoming Cowboys were a team that came into the season with high expectations as well, with some even picking them to compete for a Mountain West title. But those expectations faded once the Cowboys hit league play. To say the least, it was a tumultuous season for Craig Bohl and his group. From a 4-0 start with wins over Northern Illinois and Ball State, to a midseason quarterback swap, and then to a blowout win over rival and eventual Mountain West Champion Utah State, the Cowboys definitely had their fair share of ups and downs on the year. Nonetheless, behind faithful leadership from Head Coach Craig Bohl and a stout defense all year long, the Cowboys achieved six wins, became bowl-eligible, and earned a birth to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Cowboys are led on offense by QB Levi Williams, the running back tandem of Xazavian Valladay & Titus Swen, and breakout WR Isaiah Neyor. The Pokes will do most of their work on the ground with Valladay and Swen, but expect a couple of big pass plays drawn up for their Freshman star wide receiver. As for the defense, the Pokes are led by none other than Butkus Award Finalist Chad Muma. Muma and his 129 total tackles helped lead the Cowboy defense, holding opponents to just 22.5 points per game and a top-40 national rank.

Prediction:

There are a few things to note in this never-before-seen matchup between Kent State and Wyoming. One, the Cowboys and Golden Flashes have a common opponent in Northern Illinois. The Cowboys beat the Huskies in an offensive slugfest on September 11th by a score of 50-43. On the other hand, the Golden Flashes split their matchups with NIU, beating the team 52-47 on November 3rd, but most recently losing to the Huskies in the MAC Conference Championship on December 4th, 41-23. It is also worth noting that Wyoming and Kent State both have offenses that do the majority of their work on the ground, however, the glaring difference is that Wyoming does a much better job defending it. If Wyoming can do a good job of sustaining drives, exploiting the porous run defense of Kent State, and play the defense that they’re capable of, they should be able to win and cover.

Final score: Wyoming 28

Kent State 20