Did The University Of Michigan Win Their Football Game Today College Football Week #13: Ohio Revisited

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College Football Week #13: Ohio Revisited

For the first time this season, I return to a well that has dried up.

In Week 10, I took on Frank Solich’s Ohio University Bobcats, giving East Michigan 6.5 points. Unfortunately, Ohio won 16-10. And I said: argh.

But I still love the history of Athens. The Bobcats just clinched MAC East and will play Central Michigan for the overall MAC title next week. Simply winning their division gave Ohio its first football title of any kind since 1968. All those people who thought the University of Nebraska were idiots for dropping Solich after a few pretty successful years may feel smart; In just his second season in charge of the Bobcats, Solich has taken this program to heights not even Jim Grobe (now earning accolades as the leader of Wake Forest) here in the late 1990s.

All the Bobcats have left before the title game are some unfinished business with their archrivals, Miami of Ohio.

This hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately. The RedHawks have won six straight games over the Bobcats, and 11 of 12. But this season, the tables have turned. Miami (OH), a perennial MAC powerhouse for the past decade and the former home of Ben Roethlisberger, has suffered a slew of injuries and will post its first losing season since 1994: They are 2-9 overall and 2-5 in the CAM. Meanwhile, Ohio is 8-3 overall and 6-1 in conference, its first winning season since 2000. The Bobcats are a superior team, but the question is: with nothing but pride to play for, what about Will Ohio rest its best players alone? Six days away from the MAC title game?

Solich says no. He and the Bobcats really want to win this game. Star running back Kelvin McRae is riding a six-game streak of 100-plus yards rushing and he wants it to continue. Ohio also has a four-game winning streak allowing 10 or fewer points to opponents and a six-game winning streak overall. And most importantly, there’s the fact that this is a game against Miami, a school that has absolutely waxed crap on the Bobcats time and time again for the past decade. Look at the last five scores: 38-7 (2005), 40-20 (2004), 49-31 (2003), 38-20 (2002), 36-24 (2001). If this is truly going to be a dream season in Athens, Ohio University has to beat Ohio’s Miami and beat them solidly.

Even better, Ohio’s strength, running the ball, is a perfect match for Miami’s biggest weakness. The Bobcats average 148 rushing yards per game; the RedHawks allow 162 per game. What Miami has done best is stop the pass, but Ohio won’t try to throw more than, say, 15 or 20 times in the entire game. And while Miami is an extremely pass-happy offense (35 attempts per game), the Bobcats have allowed just 160 yards per game, second-best in the MAC and 12th-best in the nation. Solich’s team dominates time of possession with their running game, rarely throws to wide receivers, lets the quarterback (Austen Everson) run with impunity, and isn’t going to blow anyone out of the water. But the defense has been extremely solid (especially against the pass), and during the team’s six-game winning streak, only Big Ten Illinois has surpassed them. Meanwhile, Miami is extraordinarily battered, especially on its offensive line: Charlie Norden and Matt McKeown are out for the year, which has led Miami to allow 46 sacks in 11 games.

The RedHawks aren’t as bad as their record. They took Purdue into overtime, allowed Western Michigan to get away on a late field goal, and should have beaten Ball State, had it not been for a late drive and a one-yard touchdown pass as time expired. Their average losing margin in their five MAC losses has been under five points. But they’re also 4-10 against the spread in their last 14 as losers, 1-4 ATS in their last five home games, and 0-3 in a row (albeit by seven points combined) in MAC home games this year. Meanwhile, Ohio is 5-1 ATS in its last six games overall, 5-2-1 ATS in games following an ATS win, and 4-1 ATS in its last five conference games. In fact, as Solich & Co. got going, the only ATS loss they had was, well, the half-point ATS loss that I selected them on in this very column.

Was it that strange coincidence or did I curse them? We’ll find out, because I’m also liking Ohio this week. I certainly don’t expect a big win, because that’s not what the Bobcats do. But I expect the Ohio University contingency to travel the three hours from Athens to Oxford well, and I expect the Bobcats to be much more motivated than the average entrant who is already locked up in one division. I think the line is a little low because people expect the Bobcats to rest for the MAC title game, but I don’t think that will happen. Instead, Ohio pushes back, takes a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and looks directly into the RedHawks’ faces, exorcising the demons of a decade. I’ll take Ohio (-3) in Miami (OH) to cover their path to the conference title bid.

Last week: Ahead of Saturday night’s contest in Cincinnati, the nation was wondering if Rutgers could withstand the national scrutiny involved in seeing the dominoes fall perfectly, and thus whether the Scarlet Knights were ready to take on Ohio St. in the national title game. . I guess we have our answer, huh? I jumped on the Rutgers bandwagon in a big way, then watched as the Bearcats tricked Ray Rice out of relevance and allowed Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel to self-destruct. And he ever did. Rarely has an unbeaten team gone down as much as the Knights did last weekend, and I wasn’t the only fool to go down with them in their ridiculous 30-11 loss as a 6.5-point favorite. As a result, we’re 7-5 against the season number.

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