Utah State vs. Kent State: Frisco Bowl preview and picks against the spread

Utah State (7-5) vs. Kent State (6-6)

Location: Frisco, Texas | When: Dec. 20 (7:30 p.m.) | TV: ESPN2 | Line: USU -5.5

HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE

Utah State: After losing Matt Wells to Texas Tech, Utah State brought back old friend Gary Andersen to lead the program forward. There were some growing pains in his first season, but the Aggies won three of four games down the stretch to clinch a winning record and a spot in a bowl game for the third consecutive season. 

Kent State: In the second year under 33-year-old head coach Sean Lewis, Kent State rallied to clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2012 by winning its final three regular-season games. That journey to 6-6 means the Golden Flashes will play in a bowl game for just the fourth time, and that’s on the heels of winning just 12 games over the previous five seasons. 

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

The Frisco Bowl will likely be the final college game for Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (Love was cited for marijuana possession and the school hasn’t updated his status). Love caught the attention of NFL scouts in 2018 when he threw for 3,567 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions while leading USU to an 11-2 record. Love lost many of his weapons from the 2018 season and has struggled as a junior. Still, he decided the time was right to move on to the NFL and will forgo his senior season. 

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (10) throws the ball against Boise State during the first half on Nov. 23, 2019, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Eli Lucero)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Utah State DE Tipa Galeai: A transfer from TCU, Tipa Galeai has earned second-team all-Mountain West in both of his seasons at USU. During his time with the Aggies, he has totaled 112 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. With star linebacker David Woodward sidelined, Kent State will focus on keeping Galeai out of the backfield. 

Kent State CB Jamal Parker: Parker has started 41 games over four years at Kent State and earned second-team All-MAC honors this season. Parker accumulated 58 tackles and nine pass breakups and tied for the team lead with three interceptions this season. Parker also is averaging 26.6 yards per kickoff return this season. 

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT

Utah State QB Jordan Love: Ever since his three-INT game against Wake Forest in the opener, it has been a trying season for Love, who entered the year as a rising prospect. This season Love has thrown 17 interceptions and 16 INTs (after a 32-6 ratio a year ago) and has hovered around the 60 percent completion mark. But his good athletic traits and terrific arm talent have tantalized NFL scouts to the point where he still could be a first-rounder this year. 

- Eric Edholm

WHAT’S ON THE LINE

Utah State: From 1998-2010, Utah State went 13 consecutive seasons without playing in a bowl game. But Gary Andersen turned things around, getting the Aggies to back-to-back bowl trips in 2011 and 2012 before leaving for Wisconsin. Andersen can now cap off the first season of his second stint in Logan with eight wins and a bowl victory. 

Kent State: Kent State is 0-3 all-time in bowl games, so a win would be a huge moment for the Golden Flashes program. On top of that, a victory would clinch just the program’s second winning season since 2001. 

PICKS

Nick Bromberg: Utah State -5.5

Sam Cooper: Utah State -5.5

Picks from the Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Pat Forde: Utah State -7

Pete Thamel: Utah State -7

Dan Wetzel: Utah State -7

Sean Sullivan: Utah State -7

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