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Kent State joins Buffalo as first-time MAC bowl winners

For both Buffalo and Kent State, it was a first-ever opening to the 2019-20 bowl season.

Friday evening, Buffalo took care of business in a Makers Mark Bahamas Bowl win over Charlotte. That marked the Bulls’ first-ever bowl win. Friday night, Kent State took care of business in a Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl win over Utah State. That marked the Golden Flashes’ first-ever bowl win.

How those two MAC programs got to their respective first-evers were decidedly different.

Buffalo turned a 17-0 halftime lead into a 31-9 win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Kent State, which took down Utah State in a wild 51-41 affair. The Golden Flashes’ win featured three ties and six lead changes, with the outcome not decided until the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. The final margin, 10 points, was the largest of the game.

It was Dustin Crum‘s four-yard touchdown run with 1:56 remaining that proved to be the game-winner. It was also Crum who proved to be the difference-maker throughout the game.

The junior quarterback accounted for 436 yards of offense -- 289 passing, 147 rushing. He also tossed a pair of touchdown passes to go along with his game-winning rushing touchdown.

In his final game at USU, Jordan Love passed for 317 yards and three touchdowns on 30-39 passing.

Under the youngest head coach at the FBS level -- Sean Lewis, 33 -- the Golden Flashes were playing in their first bowl game since 2012, and just the third in the program’s history. They had lost both of those previous games. Kent finishes the season with seven wins, its most since 2012 and just the second time they’ve reached that mark since 1987.

Since that 1987 season, the Golden Flashes have won six or more games on three occasions: 2001, 2012, 2019. In 20 of those seasons, they won three games or less.