Fade Alert - Ohio
August 10, 2014
By Lance Blankenship
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Under 10 ½ Ohio State · Under 4 ½ West Virginia · Over 7 ½ Pittsburgh
The Mid-American Conference has earned its stripes as a quality conference in college football. We’ve seen some great schools produce on the gridiron in the MAC and we’ve also had a handful of teams that have been automatic fades at the betting counter.
Ohio University has been a very consistent winner, earning a bowl trip each of the last five years. This season, instead of appearing in the "Beef ‘O' Brady's Bowl" or the "Idaho Potato Bowl", I’m predicting that the Bobcats will appear in the infamous toilet bowl.
Ohio UNDER 6 ½ (-175)
At 5Dimes.eu, the Bobcats have a win total of 6 ½ and the money is shaded to the ‘under’ (-175), which says something right off the bat. I don’t have any issues laying the extra juice because there is no way that Ohio wins seven games in the regular season.
I have been a huge Frank Solich backer for many years but I believe the head coach has lost it. During last season's late three-game losing streak in November, Solich looked like Humphrey Bogart in "The Caine Mutiny".
His assistants would run when he looked at them and the team fell into disarray. The late season free-fall was abated only by a visit by lowly Massachusetts, who Ohio easily hammered 58-23. In the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl a few weeks later in December, East Carolina pounded the Bobcats 37-20 on the ground.
This season, I expect the Bobcats to lack scoring punch. They have zero talent at the offensive skill positions. Losing veteran quarterback Tyler Tettleton will be tough to replace, plus Ohio also needs to find a replacement for running back Beau Blankenship too.
From a schedule perspective, Ohio didn’t get any gifts this season.
The Bobcats play away from home in their first three contests (Kent State, Kentucky, Marshall). If Solich can't escape Kent with a win, he will return to Athens 0-3, rolling his ball bearings in his hand like Captain Quegg from the aforementioned “The Caine Mutiny.”
At 0-3, his seat may get hot in Athens.
Fortunately for Ohio it stays home for the next two games and most would believe the school could rebound with wins over Idaho and Eastern Illinois.
Soon after, Game 6 is at Central Michigan and this is dangerous. The Chippewas bring back 11 starters on offense and they will blow the Bobcats off the field. CMU has a big-time NFL WR in Titus Davis and he will excel against the Bobcats raw secondary.
Delving into the first six games further, the best case scenario for Ohio is 2-4 but I believe a 1-5 mark is very possible and 0-6 would not be surprising, especially if Idaho and Eastern Illinois bring their “A” game to Athens. Make a note that EIU is a quality squad and plays great football albeit at the lower level (1-AA).
The final six games get a little more interesting but based on my thoughts below, you can see why I’m still buying the ‘under’ 6 ½ for Ohio this regular season.
Game 7 vs. Bowling Green: This is a definite loss, and it could get ugly on homecoming for Ohio. Bowling Green is coming to town and they bring a future NFL starter at QB in Matt Johnson. The Falcons will rack up a big number and leave Ohio in the dust. Last year, the Falcons won 49-0 and nothing, except for the change in venue, leads me to believe that this contest will be any closer. Solich will be snapping at assistants and rolling his ball bearings compulsively one-handedly. The Bobcats drop to 2-5 or 3-4.
Game 8 vs. Akron: Terry Bowden will bring a rejuvenated Akron team to Athens. Akron plays Penn State, Marshall, and Pittsburgh during September so the Zips' record won’t be great and they could go off as slight underdogs here. That would be great because Akron is going to repay Solich for running up the score in last year's 43-3 win in the Rubber City. This will be another contest where the Bobcats' lack of offense allows an opponent to get loose and play "downhill" all game. Ohio University goes to 2-6 or 3-5.
Game 9 at Western Michigan: The Broncos should be improved but they are still a bottom class MAC squad. This is no gimme victory for the Bobcats. This game is at Western Michigan, the weather may be cold and windy, and as mentioned above Ohio University lacks a QB. Look for a close game between bad teams. I’d lean to Ohio winning a close game. They move to 3-6 or 4-5.
Game 10 vs. Buffalo: The Bulls has a winner behind center in Joe Licata. The loss of linebacker Khalil Mack will be felt all season for Buffalo’s defense but this is a spot where it won't matter. The Bulls will score 40 or more and beat Ohio as badly as they did last season (30-3). The Bobcats will drop to 3-7 or 4-6 and with NIU on deck, bettors will start to see this school pack it in.
Game 11 vs. Northern Illinois: The Huskies loses quarterback Jordan Lynch but little else. They will field a decent QB this fall and that is all they need to make it to the MAC Championship Game. The Huskies will have no trouble beating Ohio. The Bobcats will fall behind and their lack of QB play will make comebacks impossible this season. Ohio goes to 3-8 or 4-7.
Game 12 at Miami, Ohio: I believe the RedHakws are a beatable team for Solich and the Bobcats. However, I also believe that this Ohio team will have folded the tent by kickoff. Look for Miami to best the Bobcats as slight home underdogs on Senior Day. Ohio University finishes at 3-9 or 4-8.
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