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2018 MAC Football Preview: Ohio Bobcats at Virginia Cavaliers

Can Ohio pull off the upset after a bye in Week Two?

Ohio v Massachusetts Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After escaping with a 38-32 win over the Howard Bison, the Ohio Bobcats have 14 days to prepare for its big road test this Saturday against the Virginia Cavaliers. The game has been moved to Nashville due the incoming tropical storm that will impact the East Coast. The Cavs are six-point favorites as they boast a 1-1 record with their most recent contest being a 20-16 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers.

Virginia boasts a dangerous rushing attack as it rushed for 188 yards on IU with quarterback Bryce Perkins leading the way with 123 rushing yards on top of going 12-24 for for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Ellis was a nice complement to the quarterback as he carried the ball 12 times for 63 yards.

Defensively, UVA was pretty stout with six TFLs, five PBUs, and an interception. Joey Blount was all over the field as he recorded a career-high 13 tackles but the defense still allowed 237 rushing yards to the Hoosiers. Special teams made the difference with a blocked PAT in the first quarter and a blocked field goal in the third quarter. Punter Lester Coleman pinned Indiana inside their ow 20-yard line four times while Joe Reed recorded a 25-yard kickoff return.

For Ohio to pull off the upset, it has to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. A.J. Ouellette and Maleek Irons need to get going on the ground this week to keep the offense balanced. Quinton Maxwell needs to do a good job of managing the offense and being efficient against a defense that only allowed 150 passing yards this week. UVA will look to lock down Papi White, so other WRs need to step up and make plays in the passing game.

On defense, the Bobcats need to take away the QB runs of Virginia and make it throw the ball against a good secondary. Look for some different pressures and adjustments from the unit to muddy the reads of the QB. The Cavs were 2-2 last week in scoring red zone touchdowns, so the ‘Cats need to come up big on critical downs and get off the field. Javon Hagan could have himself a day if Virginia has to throw the ball a lot.

Ohio has to be leery of its protection on special teams so that what happened to Indiana doesn’t happen to it. If D.L. Knock can get rolling in the return game and flip field position, the Bobcats will be in position to pull of the upset. I like the coaching experience of Ohio against a UVA team that has yet to find itself under Bronco Mendenhall, and I feel like that they’ll make the adjustments to keep the game close. 23-20 Ohio with some breaks going the Green and White’s way.