College Football Week 10 Picks Against Spread For Every Game College Football Week #13: Ohio Revisited

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College Football Week #13: Ohio Revisited

For the first time this season I am returning to the dry well.

In Week 10, I took Frank Solich’s Ohio University Bobcats, giving Eastern Michigan 6.5 points. Alas, Ohio won 16-10. And I said: Oh.

But I still love the story in Athens. The Bobcats just won the MAC East and will play Central Michigan next week for the overall MAC title. Just winning their division gave Ohio its first football title of any kind since 1968. All those who thought the University of Nebraska was stupid for dropping Solich after a few successful years may feel smart; In his second season at the helm of the Bobcats, Solich has taken the program to heights even Jim Grobe (currently winning raves as Wake Forest’s head coach) didn’t reach in the late 1990s.

All that’s left for the Bobcats before the title game is some unfinished business with their rivals, Miami of Ohio.

It’s not much of a contest as of late. The Redhawks have won six straight and 11 of 12 over the Bobcats. But this season the tables have turned. Miami (OH), a perennial MAC powerhouse over the past decade and the former home of Ben Roethlisberger, has been plagued by injuries, and will post its first losing season since 1994: They are 2-9 overall and 2-5 in the MAC. Meanwhile, Ohio is 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the conference, their first winning season since 2000. The Bobcats are a great team, but the question is: With no pride to play for, will Ohio rest its best players? Six days away from the MAC title game?

Solich says no. He and the Bobcats want to win this game badly. Star running back Calvin McCray has a six game streak of 100+ yards and looks to continue. Ohio also has a four-game hitting streak allowing opponents 10 or fewer points and a six-game winning streak overall. And most importantly, it’s a game against Miami, a school that has absolutely waxed the Bobcats over the past decade. Look at the last five scores: 38-7 (2005), 40-20 (2004), 49-31 (2003), 38-20 (2002), 36-24 (2001). If this is going to be a truly dream season in Athens, Ohio University will have to beat Miami of Ohio, and beat them soundly.

Even better, Ohio’s strength, running the ball, perfectly matches Miami’s biggest weakness. The Bobcats average 148 yards rushing per game; The Redhawks allow 162 a game. What Miami did best was stop the pass, but you won’t see Ohio try more than 15 or 20 times all game. And while Miami is an extremely pass-happy offense (35 attempts per game), the Bobcats have allowed just 160 passing yards per game, second-best in the MAC and 12th-best in the nation. Solich’s team dominates time of possession with its running game, rarely throws to wide receivers, lets the quarterback (Austen Everson) run free and won’t blow anyone out of the water. But the defense is extremely solid (especially against the pass), and on the team’s six-game winning streak, only the Big Ten’s Illinois has surpassed them. Meanwhile, Miami is remarkably benched, especially on its offensive line: Charlie Norden and Matt McConnell are out for the year, allowing Miami 46 sacks in 11 games.

The Redhawks aren’t as bad as their record. They took Purdue to overtime, let Western Michigan get away with a late field goal and should have beaten Ball State, but for a late drive and a one-yard TD pass as time expired. Their average margin in their five MAC losses is less than five points. But they are 4-10 in their last 14 as underdogs, 1-4 ATS in their last five home games and 0-3 straight (albeit by a combined seven points) in home MAC games this year. Meanwhile, Ohio is 5-1 ATS in their last six games, 5-2-1 ATS in games following an ATS win and 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games. In fact, as the pace picked up for Solich & Co., the only loss to ATS was a half-point loss to ATS in which I picked them in this very column.

Was it a freak incident or did I curse them? We’ll find out, because I also like Ohio this week. I’m definitely not expecting a big-blowout win, because the Bobcats don’t do that. But I expect the Ohio U. contingency to make the three-hour trip from Athens to Oxford well, and I expect the Bobcats to be far more motivated than your average division-already-clinched participant. I think the line is a little low because people expect the Bobcats to rest for the MAC title game, but I don’t think so. Instead, Ohio grinded it out, took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter and stared the big bad Redhawks in the face, taking out the decade-long monster. I’m taking Ohio (-3) to Miami (OH) on their way to covering a conference title tilt.

Last week: Heading into Saturday night’s contest in Cincinnati, the nation wondered if Rutgers could possibly withstand the national scrutiny involved in watching the dominoes fall completely, and thus whether the Scarlet Knights were ready to face Ohio St. in the national title game. . We got our answer, huh? I jumped on the Rutgers train in a big way, then watched the Bearcats push Ray Rice out of relevance and let Rutgers QB Mike Teal destroy himself. And when he did. Rarely have the Knights beaten an undefeated team as badly as they did last weekend, and I wasn’t the only sucker who went down with them in their ridiculous 30-11 loss as a 6.5-point favorite. As a result, we are 7-5 for the season.

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