The Ohio Bobcats, sitting with a 5-6 record, travel to Akron, Ohio, to take on MAC East rival Akron at InfoCision Stadium for a Tuesday night MACtion game against an 0-11 Zips team. The stakes are high for both teams, but especially for Ohio.
The Bobcats know that they cannot passively let this game go by. Even with the abundance of bowl games that require teams to fill them, the Bobcats find themselves needing to win just to become eligible for one of the available spots.
No matter the outcome of this game, Ohio fans have ample reason to take pride in the health and strength of their program. Led by longtime head coach Frank Solich, the Bobcats can now point to the fact that their team has the all-time winningest head coach in MAC history, with 111 victories. Solich passed longtime Central Michigan coach Herb Deromedi last week in Ohio's 66–24 win at Bowling Green. The 66 points scored at Bowling Green were the most by the Bobcats since scoring 67 against Western Michigan in 1953.
"There have been a lot of great players over the years that have come through Ohio that have set the tradition to where we were able to recruit well and win football games," Solich said. "The coaches have been tremendous. If you have that combination, you’re going to win a few football games."
On the other end of the spectrum are the Akron Zips. The Zips are winless in 2019, sitting at 0-11 in Tom Arth's inaugural season as head coach.
Not all is dismal and forlorn for the Zips. Akron played well in its 20-17 loss at Miami, and that could be the type of game to give the Zips some confidence heading into this game against Ohio. An upset win at home would do wonders heading into the 2020 season for Arth and his rebuilding program.
Ohio at Akron
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio -28
When Ohio Has the Ball
Bobcats quarterback Nathan Rourke is coming off a spectacular performance at Bowling Green in which he completed 14-of-21 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns while adding another on the ground. In the run game, O'Shaan Allison had 12 carries for 175 yards and three touchdowns, as the Bobcats' offense imposed its will on Bowling Green. For an Akron team that has been allowing nearly 35 points per game to its opponents, it will bear watching to see how Akron elects to defend against this lethal Bobcat offense. A key defender for the Zips is linebacker John Lako, who had 14 tackles, a sack, and a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 20-17 loss to Miami (Ohio). If there has been a bright spot for Akron's defense it's been against the pass. The Zips are first in the MAC at 186.6 passing yards per game allowed, but that's in part due to teams' success running the ball against them (210.1 ypg, ninth). Otherwise, Arkon has surrendered 19 touchdowns passes with just five interceptions. Ohio also is a team perfectly content with staying grounded on offense.
When Akron Has the Ball
Akron is averaging about 11 points a game, but there have been a few promising moments. Zips quarterback Kato Nelson completed 15-of-25 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown and added 54 rushing yards in the 20-17 loss at Miami (Ohio). Akron has to protect Nelson much better against Ohio than it did at Miami, as the Zips gave up 12 sacks to the RedHawks. A key Ohio Bobcat defender is junior linebacker Jared Dorsa. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Dorsa had eight tackles and a tackle for a loss in the Bobcats' win at Bowling Green.
Tom Arth is building for the future, but his Arkon team enters this season finale desperately undermanned against an Ohio squad that needs to win to go to a bowl game. The home team may be able to pull some trick plays out of their bag, but look for the Bobcats to rout a Zips team that needs time and more talent to catch up with the rest of its MAC brethren.
Prediction: Ohio 56, Akron 14
(Top photo courtesy of @OhioFootball)