Bobcats look to regain positive momentum on the road against Falcons
Sitting at 4-6, Ohio' 2019 season is at a crossroads. Coming off two straight losses by a total of six points — losing to Miami (Ohio) by three (24-21) on Nov. 6 and Western Michigan by the same margin in overtime (37-34) last Tuesday — the Bobcats need to win their remaining two games to have a shot at bowl eligibility.
Following the loss at Western Michigan, Ohio head coach Frank Solich said, "We've got two games left... We plan on winning those two games. We're trying to do our best we can to salvage the season and make it 6-6. That's the opportunity we have in front of us right now."
At 3-7, Bowling Green knows that their season will not contain a bowl game, but the Falcons have an opportunity to ruin Ohio's season. The Falcons are coming off a brutal 44-3 loss to the aforementioned RedHawks. Further complicating Bowling Green's situation, Ohio has won the last three times the teams have played with the last victory by the Falcons over the Bobcats came back in 2015, a 62-24 triumph. If Ohio wins this game, it will tie for the longest winning streak over the Falcons in program history.
Ohio at Bowling Green
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio -18.5
When Ohio Has the Ball
Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke is the focal point of the Bobcat offense. Coming off a passing performance that saw Rourke complete 20 of 29 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding an additional 93 yards on the ground, Rourke will be a marked man by the Bowling Green defense. Bowling Green has allowed 34.8 points per game and will need to be judicious in how they try to contain Rourke in this game.
The Falcons have a solid pass defense — their 229.4 passing yards per game allowed ranks 67th nationally and — but Rourke should be able to do serious damage against a run defense that is second-worst in the MAC and 118th in the nation (211.7 ypg). Rourke leads the Bobcats with 718 yards on 126 carries, while O'Shaan Allison and De'Montre Tuggle both also average more than five yards per carry.
When Bowling Green Has the Ball
The 44-3 loss at Miami demonstrated Bowling Green's offensive ineffectiveness. The bright spot for the Falcons was the play of junior running back Bryson Denley, who ran for 105 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Bowling Green needs better quarterback play from Grant Loy, who completed only 11 of 27 passes, while also throwing three interceptions that contributed heavily in the loss to the RedHawks.
The good news for Bowling Green is that Ohio's defense has been one of the worst at creating havoc plays. Only NC State has created fewer turnovers than the Bobcats (5), while they also are tied for 100th nationally with 16 sacks through 10 games.
The 2019 season has been a disappointment for Ohio, as they expected to compete for the MAC championship this year. With that goal impossible to reach, the best way for Ohio to salvage their season is to win out the remainder of the schedule to secure a bowl invite. Bowling Green is building for the future and may not have enough left in the tank to compete with the Bobcats.
Prediction: Ohio 35, Bowling Green 10