Updated Mon, Nov 11, 2013 4:53 pm
With a crushing loss to the Buffalo Bulls last week, the Ohio Bobcats no longer control their own destiny in the Mid-American Conference title race and any chance of reaching the conference championship in Detroit seems grim. But, with a strong win against the Bowling Green Falcons on Tuesday night, the Bobcats can better their résumé for a possible bowl berth at the end of the regular season.
Even with something to fight for, it doesn’t get any easier for the Bobcats, as head coach Frank Solich described the Falcons as a very similar team to the Buffalo Bulls that trounced Ohio 30-3 last Tuesday night.
“They both have outstanding running backs, quarterbacks who can throw and run, and very physical defenses,” Solich said.
While Ohio’s offense struggled mightily, the Bobcats’ main concern is their ongoing inability to stop the run. Last week, Buffalo’s Brandon Oliver became the second opposing running back to gain over 200 yards against Ohio, outgaining the entire Bobcat offense singlehandedly.
“It’s frustrating for our players,” Solich said. “You can’t give a great running back opportunities by covering the wrong gap and not having many players around the ball. One way to slow down a great back is to get multiple hits on him every time he touches the ball. You can’t do that with guys out of place. We’re working on getting better.”
The Falcons feature another lethal running back threat for the Bobcats with sophomore Travis Greene, a back that has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season with three games remaining. Greene has recorded five 100-yard rushing performances on the season, as well as a 99-yard outing against Southeastern Conference opponent Mississippi State on Oct. 12.
The Bobcat defense must prove that it is able to slow down the rushing attack, but the Falcon defense has proven itself to the MAC and the rest of the nation over the past two seasons.
Bowling Green currently ranks seventh among all FBS programs in points allowed, surrendering only 16.8 points per game through its first nine games. Outside of a blowout loss to the Indiana Hoosiers near the beginning of the season, the Falcons have not allowed an opponent to score over 30 points since they played Kent State on Nov. 17 of 2012.
“They’re physical,” Solich said. “You never see them out of place. They're a well-coached defensive unit, so they don't allow a lot of points on the board.”
Handling the Falcons appears to be a daunting task for the Bobcats, and they’ll approach the game without a definitive answer as to whether or not wide receiver Donte Foster or cornerback Devin Bass will be able to play. Foster is recovering from a lower back injury, while Bass is struggling with a hip pointer. Solich described the Bobcats as the most “beat up” they have been all season.
With all of the struggles that the Bobcats are facing at this point in the season, the biggest obstacle is emotion and how the team handles adversity. Ohio will need to show metal toughness and the ability to forget the struggles of the past to move past the Falcons in Bowling Green.
“We’re dealing with 20-year-old players, and their emotions are up and down,” Solich said. “When things are going well, it shows. When things aren’t going well and things fall against them, sometimes that shows, too. I think that happened last game, and we need to learn how to overcome that as much as anything in terms of X’s and O’s. That’s where your leadership has to show when those moments come up."
The Bobcats and Falcons kick off from Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green at 7:30 on Tuesday night. A loss would completely wipe out Ohio’s chances of reaching the MAC Championship game in Detroit.