Date: Sept. 8, 7:30 at Commonwealth Stadium on Comcast Sports South.
Coach: Darrell Hazell, former Ohio State wide receivers coach, finished 5-7 in his first season as head coach at Kent State. The Golden Flashes were 4-4 in the MAC, good enough for third in the Eastern Division. FYI: Hazell just hired Tommy Cook off the Kentucky staff as his director of football operations.
Offense: It was a tough year for Kent offensively last season. The Golden Flashes ranked last in the MAC and 119th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense (253.5 yards per game). Only Florida Atlantic (248.8) was worse. Kent was 114th in points scored (17.1 per game). Kentucky was 117th at 15.8. Nine Kent starters return, though that might not be a good thing. Quarterback Spencer Keith is among the returnees and should be helped by four returning starters on the offensive line.
Defense: Nine starters return from last year, including dynamite defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix. His numbers would be better if not for the fact he is double-teamed on almost every play. Also back is linebacker Luke Batton, the team's leading tackler, and defensive end Jake Dooley, the team leader in sacks with five.
Overall: Under first-year coach Hazell, the Golden Flashes finished strong, winning four straight before a loss to Temple in the season finale. Kent thinks it has the best defense in the MAC and, with a combined 18 starters back, is looking to put together a winning season.
Series: UK is 6-0 against Kent State since 1984. Former UK player and coach Doug Martin was head coach of the Golden Flashes in the last meeting, which Kentucky won 56-20 in 2007 at Commonwealth Stadium. The closest Kent has come to the Cats was a 24-6 loss to Bill Curry's 1991 Kentucky team.
Schedule: The key stretch will be down the stretch when Kent travels to Miami on Nov. 10, then Bowling Green on Nov. 17 before returning home to face division favorite Ohio. All three of those opponents are expected to be the prime contenders in the MAC's Eastern Division.
John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com