Final Score: Kent State 51, Utah State 41
Kent State now leads the series 2-1 between these schools after they split a pair of games in 1973 and ’74. Utah State won at Kent State 27-24 in ’73, and then KSU returned the favor with a 27-16 victory at USU in 1974. The two schools have played 202 total seasons and 1,996 all-time games since Utah State started varsity football in 1912. Kent State began its grid program in 1920.
Kent State is now 348-558-28 in 97 seasons and 1-3 in bowls after its first postseason triumph. This was the first bowl appearance for the Golden Flashes since the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl.
KSU also exceeded its composite scoring total – 38 points – in its first three bowl games with 51 markers this evening.
Utah State is 514-520-28 all-time in 105 campaigns and 5-8 in bowls, including 4-4 in eight bowls over the last nine seasons – the most successful postseason skein in Aggies annals.
Kent State head coach Sean Lewis is the youngest top mentor in the major college football ranks at age 33. He is now 9-16-0 in two seasons (7-6 in 2019) at the Golden Flashes helm after playing at Wisconsin in 2006 and ’07. He previously served as a college assistant coach at Omaha, Akron, Eastern Illinois, Bowling Green, and Syracuse from 2010-17 before joining KSU. Lewis is 1-0 after his first appearance as a FBS bowl head coach.
Aggies head coach Gary Andersen is 63-67-0 overall as an 11-year college head coach. He was 4-7 at Southern Utah in 2003, 26-24 in his first tenure at USU from 2009-12, 19-7 at Wisconsin in 2013-14, 7-23 at Oregon State from 2015-17, and 7-6 in his second stint at Utah State (now 33-30 overall in Logan). Andersen’s unique career has taken him from an NCAA FCS independent to the Western Athletic Conference to the Big Ten to the Pac-12 and now to the Mountain West Conference. He is now 1-3-0 in four bowl tests – three at Utah State and one at Wisconsin.
This game was closer than the first two walkovers in Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl annals. Louisiana Tech of Conference USA topped SMU of the American Athletic Conference 51-10 (41 points) in the 2017 inaugural while Ohio of the Mid-American Conference downed San Diego State 27-0 (27 points) of the Mountain West Conference in the 2018 renewal. Those margins averaged 34 points as compared to tonight’s 10-point verdict by the Golden Flashes.
Four conferences have been represented in the first three TSCFB encounters – Conference USA, the American, the MAC, and the MWC. The MAC and MWC were pre-contracted for the 2019 skirmish.
Mid-American Conference members open the bowl season at 2-0 in post-2019 contests while Mountain West Conference schools are a composite 0-1 on the first day of 2019-20 bowl campaign. Buffalo opened MAC bowl activity with a 31-9 win over Charlotte earlier Friday in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. The MAC has a record-tying eight bowl invitees in post-2019 while Toledo was bowl eligible at 6-6 and did not receive a bid. The MWC boats seven teams in bowls this winter for a total of 16 bowl eligible schools between these two leagues in ’19.
MAC teams are 42-70 all-time in bowl games since the league was formed in 1947 while MWC squads are 52-44 through Friday’s encounters since the conference began play in 1999.
The MAC is now 10-24 in all bowl games over the last six seasons while MWC members are a composite 19-18 in postseason encounters since 2014.
The MAC is now 19-27 against non-conference opponents (including two bowls) in 2019 while the MWC is 31-19 vs. outside foes this year.
This is the first of seven bowl games for both the MWC and second of eight bowl bouts for the MAC.
Kent State joined the MAC in 1962 while Utah State first competed in the MWC in 2013. The Aggies previously belonged to the Western Athletic, Sun Belt, Skyline, Pacific Coast Athletic Association, and Rocky Mountain Conferences from 1920-2012.
The three games of the Miami Beach Bowl (predecessor of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl) had these results:
Dec. 22, 2014 – Memphis 55, BYU 48, 20,761 attendance
Dec. 21, 2015 – WKU 45, USF 35, 21,712
Dec. 19, 2016 – Tulsa 55, Central Michigan 10, 15,262
The first then-DXL Frisco Bowl was a 51-10 win by Louisiana Tech (Conference USA) over SMU (American Athletic Conference) at Toyota Stadium on Dec. 20, 2017. Last year’s 27-0 win by Ohio over San Diego State was first collegiate game shutout in 10 games (eight FCS championships and two Frisco Bowls at that time) at Toyota Stadium.
Previous MVPs and tonight’s MVPs in this bowl and its predecessor have been:
2014 Paxton Lynch, Memphis QB
2015 Brandon Doughty, WKU QB
2016 Dane Evans, Tulsa QB
2017 J’Mar Smith, La. Tech (offense); Amik Robertson, La. Tech (defense)
2018 A.J. Ouellette, Ohio (offense); Evan Croutch, Ohio (defense)
2019 Dustin Crum, Kent State (offense); Qauntrezz Knight, Kent State (defense)
Bowl Bids By Conferences in 2019-20:
ACC (10): Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
American (7): Cincinnati, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF
Big Ten (9): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Big 12 (6): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas
C-USA (8): Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Southern Miss, UAB, Western Kentucky
MAC (8): Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
Mountain West (7): Air Force, Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, Utah State, Wyoming
Pac-12 (7): Arizona State, California, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Washington State, USC
SEC (9): Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M
Sun Belt (5): Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana
Independent (3): BYU, Liberty, Notre Dame.
The 2017 then-DXL Frisco Bowl was the first NCAA FBS game ever played in Frisco, Texas, or Toyota Stadium, though Texas Tech has held its 2017-19 spring intrasquad games some eight miles south of this stadium at the indoor venue The Star at Ford Center in Frisco. Toyota Stadium has been host for the NCAA Division I football championship contest annually since 2010 and will host the 2019 DI title game on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.
Kent State alumnus, football student-athlete, former assistant coach and 74-year fan Dick Kotis is following tonight’s game from afar in Kent. Kotis also attended KSU’s 1972 Tangerine Bowl game at Orlando, Fla., in with College and Pro Football Hall of Fame LB Jack Lambert and future highly-successful college head coaches Gary Pinkel and Nick Saban playing for the Golden Flashes in that outing.
KSU had what is possibly a school record 14 football academicians on the 2019 MAC All-Academic Football Team.
The Golden Flashes QB Dustin Crum completed 68 percent-plus of his passes and had a school-best 18:2 touchdowns to interceptions’ ratio in 2019. Crum and USU’s Jordan Love (just under 79 percent completion rate) are among national leaders in passing success rates. Crum completed 80.8 percent of his passes (21-of-26) in tonight’s clash.
Crum also had a career-best 147 net rushing yards on 23 carries this evening. His previous high was a 101-yard rushing game against Ball State on Nov. 23.
In the first half Kent State set a school record for points scored in a bowl bash with it second field to take the lead at 20-17. The Golden Flashes ended with 23 points before intermission, and the previous game bowl best was 18 points.
K-State field goal kicker Matthew Trickett (tied the NCAA bowl record held by seven others for field goals with five) became the first kicker in either the Miami Beach or Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowls to make five field goals (also a school record) in one contest and tied the NCAA bowl record with five (held by seven other players). Utah State specialist Dominik Eberle also connected on two three-points for a composite 7-for-7 showing by the two kickers – one of the most accurate showing in all-time NCAA postseason annals.
Utah State has won at least seven games in 26 different seasons.
Aggies quarterback Jordan Love started the evening needing 139 yards to become the school’s career total offense leader as he had 8,670 yards in his first 37 games. He also had accounted for 66 touchdowns (57 passing, nine rushing) over his first three campaigns. Chuckie Keeton (2011-15) had the previous school record with 8,808 total offense yards.
Love broke Keeton’s career total offense mark with 9,003 yards (333 tonight, 317 passing, 16 rushing), and he also snapped Keeton’s school mark of 275 pass completions in one season (2015) with his 276th completion in the third quarter. Love ended the campaign with 293 pass connections after hitting on 30-of-39 aerials Friday night.
USU entered the game among the FBS Top 40 in 13 different statistical categories, with second place in special teams returns for touchdowns – three: two kickoff returns, one punt return TD).
Along with the airtight 27-26 score at the end of the third quarter, time of possession was practically equal. Utah State had the ball for 22:38 for the first three periods to 22:22 for the Golden Flashes.
The Aggies opened 2019 as one of the youngest teams in terms of experience nationally with two returning starters on offense and seven defensive regulars from the 2018 unit.
KSU is coming off a spring with a composite grade point average for all its student-athletes of 3.2 – a school record – (4.0 scale) and 43 student-athletes with a perfect, 4.0 average.