It will be Homecoming this Saturday at Peden Stadium as the Ohio Bobcats welcome MAC West opponent Central Michigan to town. The Bobcats boast a 4-1 record and are riding a four game win streak punctuated by a 43-3 demolishing of MAC East rival Akron last week.
The 'Cats are led by head coach Frank Solich, who is in his eighth year at the helm. Any discussion of Bobcat football can not commence without props being given to Solich for his excellent record and service to Ohio University. Solich began the 2013 season with an overall record of 59-44 as head coach of the Bobcats. His Ohio University teams have appeared in several bowls, won a MAC East Division championship and have appeared on national television defeating Pittsburgh and Penn State among others. Solich's current squad is both talented and disciplined.
The hallmark of Bobcat football this year has been a bruising defense. Junior Thad Ingol was a dominant force in last weeks game against the Akron Zips. His interception, fumble recovery and defensive touchdown earned Ingol MAC East Defensive Player of the Week Honors. Senior defensive end Ty Branz also put on an impressive showing last week by recording three quarterback sacks, two pass hurries and six tackles against the Zips.
But Ohio's offense has been what's led it to its current status as a MAC East favorite. Though it doesn't put up prolific numbers, this unit is comprised of a wealth of experience. Tyler Tettleton keeps climbing up the Ohio record books, and with the two-headed duo of Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin in the backfield, Ohio is poised for a big rushing game at some point.
Central Michigan is the opposite of Ohio in almost every way. A program that once dominated the MAC, CMU is now dwelling in the cellar of the MAC West. The Chippewas will arrive at Peden Stadium with a 2-4 record. This year the Chips have been plagued by inconsistency and poor play interrupted at times by sudden periods of excellence. Gone are the old players that used to beat up on the Bobcats, and in their place are youngsters such as the turnover-prone Cooper Rush. CMU has struggled this season as a plethora of injuries (see Ohio, circa 2012) have ravaged the teams offense. The defense has struggled mightily as well.
The high point of CMU's season so far came in the third quarter of last Saturday's game against the Miami RedHawks. After clumsily surrendering a 7-3 lead on a blown coverage following a fumbled punt return, freshman QB Cooper Rush led the Chippewas on a seven plus minute 84 yard drive that culminated in a hard three yard touchdown run by Saylor Lavallii. The cupcake had been bitten by Cinderella. From that point on, the Chips were dominant on offense and defense in being victorious over the RedHawks.
But, with Ohio coming off its biggest win of the season (the 'Cats have allowed 3 points in the last eight quarters) can Rush and his teammates carry their mojo into Peden and avoid another embarrassing blowout loss, or will the 'Cats continue their impressive run with another dominating win? It will be fun to watch and find out.
Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. Saturday. The game can be viewed on Time Warner SportsChannel or streamed on ESPN3 (blackouts apply). Check your local listings.