The Ohio Bobcats were embarrassed on multiple levels last weekend against the Central Michigan Chippewas, but it does not compare to the late-season trumping that Ohio took against the Bowling Green Falcons last season. It was a cold November night, and the Bobcats were frozen in place. It was one of Ohio coach Frank Solich’s worst losses of his career: a 49-0 defeat at the mercy of Bowling Green.
This weekend, which is also Homecoming for the ‘Cats, presents Ohio with an opportunity to release some aggression built up from last season’s loss. A new week means a new chance for the Bobcats to bury the hatchet; they definitely want to after last week. But the added motivation from a game played over 40 weeks ago lingers as well.
“We need to start talking a little bit more about how they did us last year,” Ohio running back Daz’mond Patterson said during practice this week. “They embarrassed us last year, and we’ve got to come back out and take care of that.”
Patterson elaborated on what the Bobcats would do during the offseason to remind themselves of what happened that frigid night in Bowling Green. When the team would have to run extra wind sprints at the end of practice, they thought of the game against the Falcons. When coaches added extra reps of up-downs and pushups, they thought of the Bobcat team that did not show up against Bowling Green.
The sting from the game against Central Michigan combined with the previous hurt from last year’s Bowling Green game have provided the motivation this week. Although players try their best to forget what happened after demolitions such as the ones mentioned above, they cannot totally forget such disasters. For the most part, however, the Bobcats respond with a business-as-usual approach.
“They’re ready to go back to work, and they’re very positive,” Solich said. “They’re very supportive of one another, and that’s always a great place to start after a loss.”
The business that Ohio (3-3, 1-1 MAC) will need to take care of on Saturday to come away with a win starts with shutting down one component of Bowling Green’s efficient two-pronged offense. Falcon quarterback James Knapke has filled in nicely for standout Matt Johnson, who only played in the first game this season, running back Travis Greene continues to do great things on the ground and true freshman wide receiver Roger Lewis is proving to be one of the best playmakers in the MAC. The Bowling Green offense is stacked, and that presents many problems for Ohio.
“The only problem is, if you shut down the run and they’re a one-dimensional passing team, they’ll maybe throw the ball 60 times a game, and so you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to make plays,” Solich said.
Either way, Ohio will be in for a long day on Saturday.
About the Opponent: Bowling Green Falcons (4-2, 2-0)
Location: Bowling Green, Ohio
Colors: Orange and Brown
Mascot: Freddie and Frieda Falcon
Notable Alumni: ESPN sportscaster Jay Crawford and former MLB pitcher Orel Hershiser
Players in the NFL: New England Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones and Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham
Previous Bobcat Game: 49-0 Bobcat loss at Doyt Perry Stadium — Nov. 12, 2013
Current Matchup: 2 p.m. Saturday — Peden Stadium
Bobcats to Watch
Offense: RB Daz’mond Patterson – Patterson has not met the level of expectations that were set upon him for his redshirt junior season. The speedy and elusive back was supposed to be No. 1 on a running back depth chart that goes about four or five deep. He has struggled, especially with holding onto the ball. But he seems extremely focused on getting back on track this week, using motivation from last season’s embarrassment. Patterson started off the Central Michigan game for the Bobcats, and he most likely will get the nod once again with A.J. Ouellette still fighting off an injured ankle.
Defense: LB Quentin Poling – Poling tried countless times last Saturday to pump up the defensive unit, but Central Michigan just kept pounding the ‘Cats inside. The Ohio rush defense has held up pretty well, ranking fifth in yards allowed in the MAC, but it did not hold up well against Thomas Rawls of CMU. Poling will have this unit ready to go after a disheartening performance last weekend despite the injuries that have started to plague the Bobcats. He has been the fearless leader who has stepped in himself in the wake of injury.
Panthers to Watch
Offense: WR Roger Lewis – The true freshman wide receiver has been making a name for himself this season. Lewis ranks first in the MAC in receptions (45) and contributes almost 100 receiving yards per game. His breakout start for Bowling Green has complemented the just-as-efficient Falcon ground game. Although Lewis is coming off his least productive game of the season, Ohio has struggled against star wide receivers this year. Last week Central Michigan’s Titus Davis hauled in 10 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns against the Ohio secondary. Lewis has the abilities to do the same if the Bobcats are caught sleeping.
Defense: DE Bryan Thomas – Thomas has been causing havoc for opposing offenses all season long. On top of totaling 3.5 sacks on the season, Thomas has also forced a league-high three fumbles. The Ohio running backs have had some troubles throughout the season with holding onto the ball, and Thomas will be looking out for those particular players. With three freshmen offensive linemen starting as well, Thomas, a senior, has the advantage heading into this contest.
Falcons 34, Bobcats 20 – Things are going to get a little worse for the Bobcats before they get better (and until Derrius Vick returns from injury). Although Bowling Green has struggled to meet the expectations that were placed on them at the beginning on the season — in part due to losing their starting quarterback in the first week — they’ve been pouring on the points this season. Ohio’s defense has appeared vulnerable over the past few weeks, and that bodes well for the Falcons.