Football: Tough MAC test ahead for Bobcats

At 5-1, Ohio is off to its best start since 2012, but Frank Solich knows his team will have a tough test today when it hosts the Western Michigan Broncos.

“We have watched them on film, and it is pretty evident they have a good football team,” Solich said. “It is going to be a huge challenge and a very good football game.”

The Bobcats are riding high after a 34-3 homecoming win over Miami that saw Ohio’s largest margin of victory ever against the RedHawks. The Ohio defense finished with four interceptions in a dominating performance.

The RedHawks were a young, mistake-prone team. Western Michigan is the opposite.

The Broncos are led on offense by three-year starting quarterback Zach Terrell.

(In case you were wondering, Terrell prefers boxers to briefs. Regardless of what underwear he has on Saturday afternoon, Terrell will lead an offense loaded with weapons.)

Terrell is joined in the backfield by the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year Jarvion Franklin. In addition to Franklin, wideouts Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman have already combined for over 1,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

The powerful Bronco offense is there to combat a porous defense. Through five games, Western Michigan is allowing over 35 points per contest. To be fair, the Broncos loaded their non-conference schedule with powerhouses like Michigan State and Ohio State, but they did allow 20 points to Murray State and 39 to Central Michigan.

Today’s match-up will pin two teams together that excel on opposite sides of the ball. The Ohio offense will need to step up to keep up with its WMU counterparts.

About the Opponent: Western Michigan Broncos (2-3, 1-0)

Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Established: 1903

Colors: Brown and Gold

Mascot: Buster Bronco

Notable Alumni: Actor and standup comedian Tim Allen and NFL coach John Harbaugh

Players in the NFL: Eagles cornerback E.J. Biggers,  Dolphins safety Louis Delmas, Colts guard Joe Reitz, Seahawks guard Drew Nowak, free agent linebacker Jason Babin and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings.

Previous Bobcat Game: 42-21 Ohio loss at Waldo Stadium — October 25, 2015

Current Matchup: 12 p.m. Saturday — Peden Stadium

Bobcats to Watch

Offense: RB Dorian Brown – Brown saw seven carries last week in a game that saw five different Bobcats in the backfield. He led the team with 44 rushing yards, including a 22-yard burst. It should be interesting to see if this was a one time thing, or if Solich and offensive coordinator Tim Albin plan to use Brown as a vital piece in the offensive attack.

Defense: LB Jovon Johnson – Johnson returned to action last week after missing four straight games with an injury. In his return, the Solon native picked off a pass. His impact on the defense is huge, whether it’s Johnson making plays or inspiring his teammates. Johnson should be close to 100 percent today and Ohio will need him to be.

Panthers to Watch

Offense: RB Jarvion Franklin – The sophomore tailback was awarded MAC Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,551 yards and reaching the end zone 25 times last season. Franklin’s numbers are a little down this year thanks to the tough defenses the Broncos have faced. In last year’s meeting with Ohio, Franklin recorded 156 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Defense: DB Darius Phillips – Phillips, a sophomore, is a converted wide receiver and his wideout hands have been full display this season. He leads Western Michigan with three interceptions, 11 breakups and eight passes defended. Phillips will likely be across the line from Sebastian Smith all game Saturday. It should be a doozy of a match-up.


Bobcats 17, Broncos 14 – The Ohio defense has been on a roll in recent weeks, but the strong Western Michigan offense will be one of its toughest tests of the season. If Franklin has a big day, the Broncos odds of winning are high. Derrius Vick and his offensive weapons need to continue to make big plays if the Bobcats want to avenge the blowout loss of last season.

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