But Saturday the Golden Flashes will make quite

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published:

But Saturday the Golden Flashes will make quite possibly their most aggressive attempt ever to purchase a victory when they battle Bucknell in their 2001 home opener.

As part of a switch in scheduling philosophies, Kent State passed up a big paycheck it could have earned by playing at Auburn and instead scheduled the Bison in an attempt to build some direly needed confidence by playing a mediocre Division I-AA program at home early in the season.

The move was proposed by fourth-year Flashes coach Dean Pees, who is struggling to solidify the program and desperately needs something positive to build on, then eventually backed by school administrators that are now more willing than ever to provide the tools necessary to finally get KSU football untracked.

But it would backfire in a big way if the Flashes can't beat Bucknell, and Pees knows it.

"I told the team I'd never say a game is a must win, but I lied," said Pees. "This is a must win."

Privately, Kent State's players also probably considered the Bison game a sure win until last week's season-opening 51-0 loss at Iowa. But that debacle may have served one important purpose for the Flashes, who certainly shouldn't fall into the age-old trap of looking past a seemingly inferior foe on Saturday.

"Who we're playing right now is not an issue at all," said Pees. "This game could be against a Division I-AA team, a (Mid-American Conference) team or another Big Ten school and it shouldn't matter. We should just be upset about the way we played last week and ready to prove we're better than that. The great thing is there's another game Saturday.

"We're not going to stay down."

The Flashes held one of the most vocal and spirited practices of the Pees era on Wednesday. They without question understand the importance of justifying the scheduling switch and the hefty sum KSU will pay Bucknell with a victory, especially since six more home games against Division I-AA foes have already been slated from 2002-05.

"I've challenged these guys every second (since the Iowa loss), and I'm happy with how they've responded," said Pees. "We need a win, and they know it. But I've seen us practice well before. We need to take it to the field on Saturday."

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E-mail: amoff@recordpub.net

Phone: (330) 678-5460

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