Updated Fri, Oct 25, 2013 11:18 am
No timeouts, down by three, and nine seconds remaining in the game at the Miami RedHawks’ 7-yard line. That was the scenario in the 2012 Battle of the Bricks when Frank Solich and the Ohio Bobcats coaching staff decided to go for the knockout punch.
Tyler Tettleton was sacked, allowing the clock to run out on the Bobcats’ perfect season. As if the Bobcats needed extra motivation during Miami week this year, the 2012 outcome still lingers on the mind of those present.
“I wouldn’t call it a revenge game,” junior defensive lineman Antwan Crutcher said. “It’s just a bit more personal.”
The RedHawks enter Peden Stadium on Saturday without a win in their 2013 season. Miami fired head coach Don Treadwell five weeks into the season, as the RedHawks rank 116th or worse among FBS teams in most major offensive statistics including passing yards, rushing yards and points scored. Miami’s last win was the upset victory over Ohio last season, and the Bobcats are making sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
“I think it makes me more hungry,” redshirt senior cornerback Travis Carrie said. “It makes me focus on the younger guys and make sure they’re prepared.”
How do veteran players teach the hatred that comes with a rivalry game? How long does it take for freshmen to understand what the rivalry means to their teammates and fans? Freshman defensive lineman Tarell Basham said it doesn’t take long.
“It’s one of the first things you learn,” Basham said. “You learn to hate a few other rivals as well, but Miami is first and foremost.”
Basham, Crutcher and the rest of the defensive line enter Saturday’s game without senior Ty Branz, a lineman that ranks 19th among all FBS defensive players in sacks. The defensive line has struggled to stop the run and get to the quarterback for two consecutive games, so filling Branz’s place quickly becomes even more crucial.
“We have to step up and make more plays,” Basham said. “[Branz] was an outstanding leader for us, so it’s a big loss.”
The loss of Branz hurts, but it gives another young defensive player the chance to step in and make a name for himself in one of the most important games of the season. While Basham said that the hatred for Miami develops early, Carrie insists that young players will develop their distaste even more after stepping on the field.
“When they go against those Miami guys, they’ll see,” Carrie said. “That hatred will be so familiar for their first time. They’ll be like, ‘Man, I see why we hate you.’”
The Bobcats currently sit as a 25-point favorite in the Battle of the Bricks, but as is the case in all games in the Mid-American Conference, favorites, records and predictions go out the window at kickoff. Especially in a rivalry game, anything can happen.
“I've been here now nine years, and, obviously, when I first got here, I did not know immediately about the Ohio versus Miami rivalry but soon found out,” Solich said. “Both teams play extremely physical football and do everything they can to play the best that they can. They prepare well for it throughout the course of the week and records go out the window. They really don't mean much. It's a matter of lining up and playing the game, and, when it's a rivalry game, all bets are off.”
The Bobcats and RedHawks square off at Peden Stadium on Saturday with kickoff set for 2 p.m.