But Kent State, for a change, is not one of 'em.
Despite bowing to four-time defending Mid-American Conference champion Marshall last weekend, the Golden Flashes (4-5) still have an opportunity to secure the program's first winning season since 1987 by closing the 2001 campaign with two victories. That shot in itself has coach Dean Pees' troops fired up for Saturday's battle at West Division leader Ball State (4-4).
"Recruits have been choosing Kent State for years because they wanted to be part of the group that turned this program around," said Pees. "But this year's seniors are different, because they actually have a chance to do it going into the 10th week of the season while the others had their hopes dashed by the fifth or sixth week.
"To me, and to our seniors, that's big."
Personally, Pees believes his '01 upperclassmen have already accomplished their mission.
"Honestly, I think things have changed drastically around here," he said. "We're not the same football team. Trust me."
The numbers back Pees' opinion, to a point.
The Flashes have earned four victories and secured a winning season at home for the first time since 1988, and have yet to get their heads handed to them by a single MAC team in '01.
After losing 11 games by 28 or more points in Pees' first three years as head coach, and falling to at least two conference foes by over 21 points in every season since 1992, Kent State has stayed within 21 points of every MAC opponent thus far in 2001.
Even though the Flashes had to score a late touchdown to close the gap to 42-21 last Saturday against Marshall, they weren't thoroughly manhandled by one of the MAC's elite teams _ as has been the case so many times in the recent past.
"We were competitive for the most part, but we're disappointed that we didn't give Marshall a better game," said Pees. "We felt that if we both played our best game Marshall would probably win, but at least that would have given us a true indication of where we stack up. We didn't play our best game, so now we're really not sure."
Neither are most area football fans, who seem to be encouraged by the four wins, yet not convinced that the Flashes are for real.
"Winning four games is an improvement. It shows we're going in the right direction, and it's something to build on," said Pees. "But a winning season would show everyone that we're significantly improved. I don't think anyone who has been around Kent State football would deny that."
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