Ohio vs. Bowling Green Preview: The Bobcats Try To Scratch Their Way Back Into the MAC East

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio and Bowling Green square off Tuesday night on ESPN3 in a MAC East showdown. The 'Cats will need a lot of things to go right in order to claw their way back into the divisional title hunt.

Ohio Bobcats (6-3, 3-2 MAC) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (6-3, 4-1 MAC)
Tuesday, November 12, Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, Ohio
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

When the season began the MAC East was viewed as a two-team race. The Ohio Bobcats were the odds-on favorite to win the East, with Bowling Green picked to finish behind. Back in august, the Tuesday night showdown between the two looked like it'd be one of the biggest games for the MAC this football season. Flash forward to today, and the situation hasn't quite turned out that way.

Bowling Green is sitting at No. 2 in the MAC East, with a shot to still take home the divisional crown, just as expected. But, Ohio is all but eliminated from the MAC East race after a crushing loss to the surprise first-place Bulls a week ago. When Bowling Green welcomes the 'Cats into Doyt Perry Stadium Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., the game won't even be on TV.

That's not to say this game is meaningless. Ohio can still cause a ruckus and a potential three-way tie by knocking off Bowling Green, if the Falcons take care of business against Buffalo next week. But that's getting ahead of the matter at hand, which is that though this game may not be as shiny as it once was, it's still a stellar matchup.

Ohio, when on, features one of the most experienced and balanced offense in the conferences, and until last week had the league's second-best defense. Bowling Green's defense is the cream of the crop, and with Matt Johnson and Travis Greene on offense, the Falcons have been the most well-rounded teams in the conference.

Ohio does have some history on its side in this matchup. The 'Cats have won three out of the last four matchups vs. Bowling Green, with the lone loss coming at home this past year. Beau Blankenship was the lone bright spot in Ohio's offense in last season's matchup, but has failed to get going this season and will likely be a non-factor. It's a tall order for a quarterback that has historically struggled against BG's stifling defense. nine of the starters from the Falcons' 2012 defense that held Tettleton to a 30.3 QBR in Ohio's 26-14 home-loss last season are back.

Meanwhile, the Falcons feature a much more potent offensive attack this season thanks to the emergence of first-year starters Johnson and Greene. Johnson, a junior quarterback, supplanted three-year starter Matt Schillz and has been phenomenal. With over 2,000 yards and a 12-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio, Johnson has added a new wrinkle to BG's offense, which somehow managed to put up 24 points last year despite not cracking 300-yards.

While Ohio fans may be glad to hear that running back Anthon Samuel, who torched the Bobcats for 181 yards and 2 scores in 2012, isn't on the team anymore, Greene has been a more than adequate backup. In fact, the transitioned running back is currently 15th in the nation in rushing, and don't be fooled by his meager five touchdowns on the season. Walk-on freshman William Houston is the only reason for Greene's lack of scoring. On just 33 carries the 6-foot, 262-pounder has managed eight scores. Bowling Green should have little issues moving the ball on the ground against an Ohio defense that has allowed 860 yards on the ground in its past four appearances, despite holding Miami to just 84 rushing yards in one of those.

If Bowling Green's defense does its job against Ohio, there should be little hope for the Bobcats in this contest. Considering how this 'Cats senior class has had a tendency to tank down the stretch as well, gives more credence to the idea that the Falcons, a nine point favorite in this matchup, should be able to cover the spread, and put a nail in the Bobcats' season.

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