For the first time this season, I'm returning to a well that has dried up.
In the 10th week I took Frank Solich at Ohio University Bobcats, giving 6.5 points to East Michigan. Alas, Ohio won from 16-10. And I said: argh.
But I still love the story in Athens. Bobcats have just won MAC East, and play Central Michigan for the overall MAC title next week. Just winning their division gave Ohio its first football title of any kind since 1968. All those people who thought that the University of Nebraska were morons to dismiss Solich after a couple of pretty successful years, can feel wise; Only in his second season at the Bobcats rudder, Solich led this program to heights that did not even come to Jim Grobe (who currently wins rows as the Wake Foresta head) in the late nineties.
All that remained for Bobcats before the title game are some unfinished business with their archives, Miami from Ohio.
This has not been a lot of rivalry lately. RedHawks won six consecutive winners, and 11 out of 12. But this season, the tables turned. Miami (OH), the multi-year-old MAC powerhouse over the past decade and the former home of Ben Roethlisberger, suffered injuries, losing its first season since 1994: a total of 2-9, and 2-5. in the MAC. In the meantime, Ohio is 8-3 in total and 6-1 in the conference, their first winning season since 2000. Bobcats are a superior team, but the question is: regardless of the pride they play, will Ohio rest their best players just six days from the MAC address?
Solich says no. He and Bobcats want to win this game badly. The star that returns Kelvin McRae has a series of six games of 100+ yards, and wants to continue. Ohio also has a series of four matches, allowing 10 points or fewer opponents, and a total six-game winning streak. And most importantly, there is the fact that this is a game against Miami, a school that has absolutely wobbled Bobcats in the past decade. See the last five results: 38-7 (2005), 40-20 (2004), 49-31 (2003), 38-20 (2002), 36-24 (2001). If this really is the dream season in Athens, the University of Ohio must beat Miami from Ohio and beat them well.
Better still, the power of Ohio, which leads the ball, perfectly agrees with Miami's weakness. Bobcats an average of 148 yards per match; RedHawks allow 162 games. What Miami did best to do is stop the pass, but you will not see Ohio trying to put in more than, say, 15 or 20 times all matches. And while Miami is an extremely passable satisfaction (35 attempts per game), Bobcats allowed only 160 yards per game, the second best in the MAC and the 12th best in the country. Solic's team dominates possession time with their running game, rarely throws on wide receivers, allows for escape (Austen Everson) unpunished, and will not get anyone out of the water. But the defense was extremely solid (especially in relation to the passage), and through the victorious series of six games, they were just defeated by Illinois. In the meantime, Miami has made an extraordinary attack, especially on the offensive line: Charlie Norden and Matt McKeown are out this year, which led Miami to allow 46 sacks in 11 games.
RedHawks are not as bad as their record. They pulled Purdue into extensions, letting Western Michigan escape in the late terrain, and he was supposed to beat Ball State, but for a late ride and a TD-pass of one yard as time had elapsed. Their average loss in five defeats of the MAC is below five points. But they are also 4-10 against the spread in the last 14 as underdogs, 1-4 ATS in the last five home matches, and 0-3 straight up (although combined seven points) in domestic MAC games this year. In the meantime, Ohio has a 5-1 ATS in the last six overall, 5-2-1 ATS games after ATS win, and 4-1 ATS in the last five conference games. Actually, how is the momentum for Solich & Co. dropped, the only loss of the ATS they had was, well, the loss of half of the ATS in which I chose them in this column.
Is it a freak case, or have I cursed them? We'll find out, because I liked Ohio this week too. I certainly do not expect the big bangs to win, because that's not what Bobcats are doing. But I expect the Ohio U. will travel three hours from Athens to Oxford, and I expect Bobcats to be much more motivated than your average participant who has already finished. I think the line is a bit low because people expect Bobcats to rest for the MAC title, but I do not think that's happening. Instead, Ohio moves it, takes a lead of 10 points in the fourth quarter, and looks right into the faces of the great bad RedHawks, and expels demons for ten years. I'm taking Ohio (-3) in Miami (OH) to call the conference on their way up to the slope.
Last week: Departing on a Saturday night tour in Cincinnati, the nation wondered if Rutgers could oppose the national control involved in the possibility of dominoes falling perfectly, and whether the Scarlet Knights were ready to deal with Ohio St. . Looks like we got our answer, huh? I jumped on the Rutgers train in a great way, and then I watched Bearcats plan Ray Rice for relevance, and let Rutgers QB Mike Teel self-destruct. And has it ever been. The rarely undefeated team broke down as badly as the Knights last weekend, and I was not the only mackerel that was knocked down with them in their funny defeat of 30-11 as a 6.5-point favorite. As a result, we are 7-5 against the number for the season.