Utah State junior quarterback Jordan Love will look to end his college career with another bowl-game bang, while Kent State will attempt to continue its strong late-season push when the teams meet in the Frisco Bowl.
Love, who has declared for the NFL draft after passing for 8,283 yards and 57 touchdowns in three seasons, will lead the Aggies into their third consecutive bowl game and eighth in the last nine seasons against the Golden Flashes on Friday in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas.
“Knowing that it’s my last game here as an Aggie, wearing that uniform, it’s really important for me to just go out there and ball out,” Love said, “and have fun with my brothers this last time.”
Love would be thrilled to repeat his performance in the Aggies’ 52-13 victory over North Texas in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl. He was named the game’s offensive MVP after setting bowl records with 359 yards passing, 362 total yards and four touchdown passes.
Love has completed 263-of-434 passes for 3,085 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, and he joined Jose Fuentes as only quarterbacks in school history with multiple 3,000-yard seasons. Love has a pair of games with three TD passes, including one of those to close out the regular season in a 38-25 victory over New Mexico.
The Aggies (7-5) of the Mountain West Conference have won eight games in four of the last seven seasons, and coach Gary Andersen would like to reach that plateau again.
Winning “six and seven is good,” Andersen said. “Eight and nine is great. Double digits is elite. I’ll believe that forever and ever. It gives us the chance to take another step to get to eight victories, and again, to win a championship. It’s a big step.”
Running back Gerold Bright leads the Aggies with 827 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, while Jaylen Warren has 561 yards and five scores. Wide receiver Siaosi Mariner has been Love’s main target, with 56 catches for 874 yards and eight touchdowns. Jordan Nathan has 47 receptions, and Deven Thompkins and Caleb Repp each have 36 receptions.
Kicker Dominik Eberle has made 19 of 22 field goals and all 40 extra points. His 30-yard field goal as time expired beat Fresno State 37-35 on Nov. 9, when Love passed for 388 yards.
Kent State (6-6) of the Mid-American Conference has come on strong. It was the only Division I school to win its final three games to become bowl eligible while rebounding from a rugged nonconference scheduled that included road games at top Power 5 programs Auburn, Wisconsin and Arizona State.
The Flashes won their final three games by three, three and eight points and will make their fourth bowl appearance in school history, the first since the 2013 Go Daddy Bowl after the 2012 season.
“We didn’t change our process,” senior linebacker Matt Bahr said. “We just needed to make the big play here or there, and we finally started making those. We found a way to win. We fought with the big dogs.”
Junior quarterback Dustin Crum led the Golden Flashes in passing and rushing, throwing for 2,336 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for 560 yards and five more scores. Isaiah McKoy has 50 receptions for 569 yards and seven touchdowns and Mike Carrigan had 535 yards receiving and five scores.
Crum passed for a season-high 369 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 101 yards, in a 41-38 victory over Ball State on Nov. 23, when Matthew Trickett kept the Flashes’ bowl hopes alive by kicking a game-winning 22-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining. They beat Eastern Michigan 34-26 on Nov. 29 to finish 6-6.
“To be resilient and to see it through, to be peaking and playing our best ball at the right time, that’s what it’s all about,” Kent State second-year coach Sean Lewis said.
–Field Level Media