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What we learned from Ohio’s 45-24 win over Buffalo

Major goals within reach for both squads, while Ohio’s collision course with history continues.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Ohio at Penn State
Kurtis Rourke passes against Penn State earlier this season. Rourke and company are 3rd in the FBS with 2725 passing yards in 2022.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Bobcats’ (6-3, 4-1 MAC East) dominant win over Buffalo (5-4, 4-1 MAC East) changed the picture in the MAC East divisional race with Ohio taking a tiebreaker lead over the Bulls for first place.

Ohio also earned postseason eligibility with the win after sitting out the post-season party last year.

In getting this far, Ohio has played at times at historic program levels in 2022 and have a chance for a special season if they can keep winning. Despite the loss, Buffalo still has a lot in play, including bowl-eligibility with one more win for the first time under head coach Maurice Linguist.

We take a look a detailed look at these happenings in our weekly takeaways:

Road To Detroit for the MAC East

With three regular season games to play to decide the MAC East, there is a three-way tie for first with Ohio, Buffalo, and Bowling Green all with 4-1 records.

Ohio controls its destiny for the MAC East title— if they win their last three games.

Buffalo can get to the championship if they win out and Ohio loses at least one of its last three games. The Bulls gave BGSU its only MAC loss this season and therefore has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Falcons.

Because Ohio and BGSU play in the final week of the season, the Falcons would be MAC East champs if they win out and Buffalo loses at least one more.

On paper, the Bulls have the easiest remaining strength of schedule. After back-to-back games against division leaders Ohio and Toledo, Buffalo faces squads with combined 7-20 records in Central Michigan, Akron, and Kent State to close out the season.

Ohio has a tougher road facing opponents with a combined 14-13 record including road games at rival Miami and Ball State before facing the Falcons.

The Falcons have the toughest road ahead against opponents with combined 15-12 records, including its last home game against Kent State before hitting the road for games against current division leaders Toledo and Ohio.

Ohio has a shot to accomplish some special things

After nine games, the ‘Cats are in a position to accomplish some team goals at historic levels.

Ohio would be MAC champs for the first time since 1968 if it can win its next four games, and would win double-digit games in a season for only the third time since that same year. There’s still a long way to go, but the title is realistically attainable as the Bobcats are first place and currently playing very good football on both sides of the ball.

With players returning from injury on offense, the Bobcats may be even better positioned for a strong finish in the weeks to come. Starting left tackle Jay Amburgey returned against Buffalo to make his appearance in MAC play. Also, a depleted running back room was bolstered last week versus Buffalo with the return of veterans Jake Neatherton and Julian Ross. Neatherton led Ohio last week with 52 yards rushing and a score. Both figures to provide critical depth and a short-term answer as a starter until Sieh Bangura returns from injury.

The Bobcats passing game shaping into one for the ages

Ohio can get make that MAC title a reality if the passing game continues to shine.

The Bobcat’s passing game statistically is performing at historic levels, breaking some all-time program records already this season while other records are squarely within their sights.

In nine games this season, quarterback Kurtis Rourke and company have posted the three of the program’s top ten most passing yards in a single game, including the top two spots in wins over Akron and Fordham.

The team’s five touchdown passes last week against Buffalo ties the program record of for most in a single game, a mark previously set by quarterback Boo Jackson in 2008.

In addition to what they accomplished already, there are more major milestones within reach.

Rourke needs just 578 yards to become the all-time program single-season passing yards leader, a record currently held by Tyler Tettleton whose 3,302 yards in 2011 is tops. Averaging over 300 yards per contest and with at least four games remaining, the Bobcats are on pace to shatter that record.

Kurtis Rourke needs just 96 yards next week to pass his brother and current BC Lions star Nathan Rourke for 4th most passing yard in a season.

With three more touchdown passes, Kurtis Rourke would also move into second place all-time in a single season, surpassing his brother Nathan’s record of 23. Kurtis Rourke needs seven more touchdown passes to tie the all-time single season program record held by Tettleton who threw for 28 scores in 2011.

The Bobcats defense playing its way into championship form

The Bobcats’ defense dominated its opponent for the third straight week, playing its best game of the season against a very solid Bulls offense.

The game was a picture of team defense, with all levels of the defense working together to bury the Bulls attack for large parts of the game. The back end of the defense fared well, allowing a long pass of just 28 yards, while the Buffalo offense was smothered under an avalanche of big plays; on the day, Ohio’s defense had 12 quarterback hurries, nine tackles-for-loss, six sacks, and five passes defensed.

Even when the Bulls were able to score a touchdown, the drive was a painful affair where every inch was earned on a 14-play, 56-yard drive which Buffalo punched in on a two-yard, fourth-down run.

Ohio’s defense also stopped the run like it hasn’t done in a long time.

Entering the game against the Bobcats, Buffalo was averaging 157 yards rushing per contest over its first eight games. Ohio’s run defense was a stone wall against the Bulls, allowing a paltry 22 net yards on 28 carries.

The 22 net yards allowed were the least yards surrendered by an Ohio defense in the last 66 games dating back to November 15, 2016 when the ‘Cats held Central Michigan to 18 net rushing yards on 31 carries.

With 17 points allowed (Buffalo had a pick-six), Ohio has held an opponent to less than 20 points in a contest for three straight weeks for the first time since 2018 when it held Ball State, BGSU, and Western Michigan to 14 points each.

Both squads get another chance in the national spotlight this week, as Ohio travels to Miami on Tuesday, November 8th for a 7:30 PM ET game on ESPN 2, while the Bulls head to Central Michigan Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 PM ET.