Frank Solich is approximately 200 years old, and has been coaching the Ohio Bobcats since 1952. Okay, we’re exaggerating. But not by much.
Since Solich took the job in 2004, the Bobcats have exhibited some strikingly-consistent traits – mostly positive, but not all. Athletic but limited-passer QB. Standard, but cleverly-executed zone-read offense. Occasionally slipping against teams they ought to beat, or surprising with an upset of a strong MAC rival.
Most importantly? Under Solich, Ohio is a consistent winner. True to form, the ‘Cats are 5-2 this season, have lost only 1 close game while winning a bunch of them, and stand a game behind Akron in the East division.
Kent State, visiting Athens this Saturday, is a mirror image of Ohio in more ways than one. The Golden Flashes are 2-5 with only 1 win over an FBS team on their resume. Embarrassingly, it took the ‘Flashes 4 weeks to score a touchdown against a top-division opponent.
All in all, the visitors look like the kind of dreary MAC team that you can go to sleep to on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, watching them lose to some other mediocrity in a quiet stadium.
The point spread opened at a 3-touchdown margin favoring Ohio but has tightened a bit, as bettors are not quite sure how explosive the otherwise-competent Bobcats are.
Who: Kent State Golden Flashes at Ohio Bobcats
When: Saturday, October 21st, 2 PM EST
Where: Peden Stadium, Athens, OH
Lines: Kent State (+19) vs Ohio (-19) / O/U Total: (46)
Ohio’s 48-30 win over Bowling Green last Saturday was strange in that despite the high-scoring result, both quarterbacks struggled mightily to pass the egg. Bobcat QB Nathan Roarke was a terrible 7-of-22 through the air, but rushed for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Perhaps the Bobcats are becoming an offense similar to what Solich coached at Nebraska. A true 11-on-11 running team doesn’t always care how many incompletions a signal-caller throws – they don’t pass that often anyway, converting even 3rd down and 5 or 6 yards on the ground most of the time. Instead, coaches try to make sure a QB launches the ball deep where only his WR can get it, and has more TD passes than interceptions.
Whoops – Roarke, a sophomore, has thrown 3 picks to only 1 TD in the past pair of games.
But if Kent State can’t stop the run, the point is moot. The Golden Flashes were porous on defense for the first 5 games, and are not as big or physical as the Bobcats on the front lines.
However, things have improved greatly in the past couple of weeks. Kent held Northern Illinois to just 3 yards a carry 2 Saturdays ago. A bigger issue is the offense, which has been absolutely abysmal at times.
We’re liking the under, as Solich will be content with his team grinding out 1st downs against the Flashes. When Kent State has the ball, they’re just going to try to keep it – not many big plays will come from either side.
If you must wager ATS, pick the ‘Cats to run away in the 2nd half and prevail by 20+ points.