Frank Solich will be remembered as one of the most consistent head coaches in the Mid-American Conference in terms of winning.
Having already appeared in four conference championship games in his 13-year tenure, including this past season against Western Michigan, the tracks were being laid for Solich to lead the Ohio Bobcats (8-3, 5-2) back to Ford Field this season at a chance for redemption.
That is until Akron came along.
Both OU and the Zips have two losses so far in their respected league schedule, but the 37-34 win for the latter last week at InfoCision Stadium meant the tiebreaker belonged to Akron.
And after Tuesday’s drubbing over Kent State, coach Terry Bowden will gets his second bowl bid in three years and first ever MAC East Division title.
This doesn’t mean all is lost for Ohio, who travel to the Buffalo Bulls (5-6, 3-4) on Friday, Nov. 24, at the University at Buffalo Stadium, who have an opportunity to reach nine wins for the first time since 2012.
When Ohio Has The Ball
The loss to Akron saw a not-so significant showing from sophomore Nathan Rourke through the air, going 9-of-22 for 110 yards and two interceptions. He did, however, score two touchdowns on the ground, which ups his total on the season to 19.
In terms of Ohio’s bruising running back A.J. Ouellette, he’s yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark since Oct. 14 against Bowling Green. There was a span of four consecutive games in which the junior did reach that number, including a season-high 140 yards on 25 carries in the overtime win over Eastern Michigan.
Turnovers will be a major focus on Friday as the Bobcats committed three to the Zips, who were able to score 21 points as a result.
When Buffalo Has The Ball
Fellow Hustle Belt writer, Steve Helwick, puts it best last week when he said the Bulls’ situation at quarterback heading into next year is a good problem to have.
For sophomore Tyree Jackson, who’s returned from a knee injury suffered early on in the season, threw for 350 yards and a touchdown against Ball State. In this latest performances over the course of three games, he’s gone for 1,069 yards and seven touchdowns.
On the other hand, featuring Drew Anderson, the man who filled in for Jackson during his hiatus, the junior was near stellar before going down with a shoulder injury. Completing over 60 percent of his passes, Anderson recorded 10 touchdowns passes, including seven against Western Michigan in the seven-overtime loss.
Coach Lance Leipold will be in good hands as to whoever he chooses to be the starter come 2018.
When looking at the records from both teams, regardless of the fact that the Bulls will be at home, it’d be an upset if they crawl their way to a win.
But, in the grand scheme of things, after what UB has shown the last two weeks in scoring a combined 78 points, getting the final win for bowl eligibility against Ohio isn’t that unlikely.
Granted, it’s not like the Bobcats will simple roll over and collect their third loss in league play. This team has the third highest total offense in the conference as well as the top ranked scoring offense. Putting up points has never a problem this season and it most certainly won’t be on Friday.
Ohio finishes the year with nine wins.
Where: University at Buffalo Stadium
When: 1 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 24
Spread: Ohio (-4)