Updated Thu, Oct 17, 2013 11:32 am
As the clock’s final seconds ticked away from the Bobcats on homecoming weekend, Ohio was faced with the harsh reality that, in the Mid-American Conference, any team is able to topple a favored team on any given Saturday[BP1] . The Bobcats are not unfamiliar with losing in shocking fashion and must learn from their previous experience to rebound on the road against the Eastern Michigan Eagles this Saturday.
“Our team has the ability to bounce back from a loss in terms of its mental makeup,” head coach Frank Solich said Monday. “That's what you strive for as coaches – to have your players in that kind of frame of mentality to be able to come back no matter what happens.”
Solich has seen his share of unexpected Bobcat upsets, including a loss to Kent State in the eighth week of the season in 2009. Ohio was undefeated in the MAC through that point in the season, but fell to the Golden Flashes and were forced to win their remaining conference games to return to the MAC Championship game.
The Bobcats rebounded quickly that season, going unbeaten down the stretch to reach the title game in Detroit. Ohio hopes for a similar narrative in 2013.
In the words of Al Davis, “Just win, baby, win.”
Eastern Michigan will be the first of the stretch of must-win contests and the last MAC West team that the Bobcats will see in the regular season. The Eagles are just 1-5 on the season, but use an offensive style of play that much resembles the Central Michigan Chippewas.
“They have similar packages and they’re big in the run game just like [Central Michigan],” redshirt sophomore cornerback Devin Bass said. “The one thing that we’re working on is redefining our focus and bringing everything we can to every single practice.”
Eastern Michigan’s offensive attack is led by junior Bronson Hill, a 5-foot-10-inch, 208-pound back that has three 100-yard rushing performances so far this season. The Eagles will surely look to replicate the success that Central Michigan running back Saylor Lavallii had against the Bobcats on Saturday.
Alongside Hill, quarterback Tyler Benz has had a lukewarm season to this point, passing for 1,252 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Benz has completed 64.5 percent of his passes this season and is second in that category only to Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton. Benz has been impressive, but the Bobcats are more focused on slowing their running attack and forcing Benz to beat them with his arm.
“The number one thing we need to do to win is stop the run,” redshirt junior safety Thad Ingol said. “They’ll try to run the ball on us after seeing what Central Michigan did to us on the ground, so we’ll need to stop it to be able to win this one.”
Much of winning a football game comes down to the X’s and O’s, but this week, the key to beating the Eagles comes down to putting the Chippewas in the rearview mirror and taking care of business down the road; a road that, for Ohio, hopefully, leads to Detroit.
“The MAC Championship and a bowl game are still there,” Bass said. “It’s going to be a lot more difficult, but now we don’t have any more leeway for a loss. We need to take in that loss, learn from it, and put forth the effort that we need to win every single game.”
The Bobcats and Eagles kick off on Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich., at 1 p.m.