ISU's chances to win at Kent State looking brighter

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Iowa State's hopes of stemming a nation-worst 17-game road losing streak have improved since the beginning of the week.

The Cyclones visit Kent State Saturday night and will be facing a team that will be battling a couple of big personnel losses.

Kent State coach Doug Martin told reporters after his Wednesday press conference that freshman quarterback Spencer Keith will be making his first career start Saturday night against the Cyclones.

The move came as injured starter Giorgio Morgan threw the ball well earlier in the day at practice, but was judged by Kent State trainers as still not ready to play on his sprained ankle.

Keith will get the start Saturday night, with plans to redshirt him in 2010, Martin told reporters.

“The thing I’m telling Spencer is that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” Martin said. “I don’t expect him to go out there and instantly be John Elway. He is going to have his difficult moments. It’s important for him to believe that we are going to put him in good position to succeed."

The Golden Flashes already will be playing without running back Eugene Jarvis, who will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a lacerated kidney in their loss to Boston College last week.

Jarvis, a 5-foot-5, 170-pound senior, was Kent State's leading returning rusher and receiver from last season after producing 801 rushing yards and 25 receptions for 273 yards.

Martin made an emotional appeal when speaking to reporters earlier this week that Jarvis should receive a sixth season of eligibility because of his injury.

"If this kid doesn't get a sixth year, everybody in Kent should storm the NCAA and we should burn the place down," Martin said.

It's clear that the Cyclones will be meeting up with an emotional opponent Saturday night reeling from several big losses.

But with road games against Kansas, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri later this season, Iowa State's game against the Golden Flashes represents their best chance to win on the road this season.

And facing an opponent with multiple injury concerns only bolsters the Cyclones' chances.