Updated Wed, Nov 27, 2013 4:31 pm
With the conclusion of Ohio’s season finale against the UMass Minutemen on Friday, one of the most successful senior classes in Bobcat football history will likely close the door on a memorable four years. While the class has helped Ohio appear in three bowl games throughout their careers including the program’s first bowl win, some have questioned whether the poor finish to their final season will tarnish their overall legacy.
A win on Friday would improve the Bobcats to 7-5 and secure the program’s fifth-consecutive winning season and would also keep the Bobcats’ slim chances of receiving a bowl bid alive. Ohio’s bowl probability will only rise if the Northern Illinois Huskies end up in a Bowl Championship Series game, a possibility that appears even more likely after the Huskies leapfrogged the Fresno State Bulldogs in the BCS poll.
The Bobcats still have a lot to play for on Friday, but some members of the senior class are also motivated to prove that the recent skid should not define the successful class. Senior linebacker Keith Moore said that he doesn’t think the skid should affect the legacy, but he is still determined to prove the doubters wrong.
“You hope these last couple games don’t affect the legacy, but it might,” Moore said. “That’s scary to think about. We’re hoping to get this “W” first and worry about that first.”
Quarterback Tyler Tettleton had different thoughts, saying that no matter what has happened over the last month, nothing could tarnish the success of the senior class.
“What we’ve been able to do here is what nobody else has done,” Tettleton said. “If you look around and see everything that’s going up here, it’s because of us and because of this coaching staff.”
A win against UMass would aide the lasting memory of the class, but the Bobcats cannot overlook the 1-10 Minutemen, as the squad challenged Ohio in a 37-34 Bobcat victory just last season. Keith Moore admitted that the up-tempo offense of the Minutemen drained Ohio in 2012, helping the UMass offense keep pace with Beau Blankenship and the Bobcat offense.
Blankenship recorded 269 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Foxboro last year, the best rushing performance of his career. The back’s 269 yard total was 101 yards more than his previous game-best. If Blankenship and the running back corps can find a rhythm, Ohio’s offense might return to the form that Bobcat fans remember from the beginning of the season.
Tettleton, Blankenship and the Ohio offense has managed to find the end zone just once over the last 12 quarters of play, a drought that has helped opponents outscore the Bobcats 123-16 in the month of November.
A convincing win against the struggling Minutemen would certainly boost Ohio’s postseason stock, but more importantly, it could put a sweet ending on an otherwise bitter and disappointing season, as well as remind Bobcat fans of how far the program has come since this class’ entrance four years ago.
“I know nothing is guaranteed after this game,” Tettleton said. “We’re all going to come out here and give it our all and end this thing the right way.”
“To think about this being my last game is crazy to me,” Moore said. “Coach Solich just said that we have an outside chance at a bowl game, so hopefully that happens and hopefully we get this “W”.”
Ohio and UMass kick off from Peden Stadium on Friday at 2 with a ceremony to honor the 19 seniors scheduled for pregame.