Although temporarily marred by an untimely 23-20 loss at Miami (OH), the 2012 season has still been a magical one for the Ohio Bobcats football team.
They lost their bid to go undefeated after a 7-0 start, but they showed no ill-effects against Eastern Michigan, trouncing the Eagles 45-15.
In a calendar year that already saw the basketball team advance to the Sweet 16, the rabid Ohio fanbase is eager to see the team go 11-1, and finish the season ostensibly ranked in the Top 25.
But it's not exactly that simple.
The Bobcats' remaining schedule is loaded with perennial MAC powerhouses, so the road to 11-1 will be a difficult one. That road starts tonight, when they lock horns with the 6-3 (4-1) Bowling Green Falcons.
Some have Ohio on upset alert tonight, and it's hard not to understand their logic. With road games against Ball State and Kent State looming on the horizon, it would be easy for the Bobcats to overlook a very sound football team. A team that demolished Miami (OH)––the only team Ohio couldn't beat––to the tune of 37-12.
The rhetoric is decent, but still: expecting Ohio to lose tonight is a fool's task.
Let's start with the most important factor in tonight's game: Peden Stadium.
The Bobcats have won 14 of their last 15 games at home, a streak that's equal parts a testament to their success in recent years, and also the massive home-field advantage they enjoy.
Their offense is explosive at all times, but they take it up a notch at Peden Stadium, averaging an exorbitant 42.4 points per game.
That will, however, be put to the test against the Falcons' stingy defense. Bowling Green allows 15.2 points per game––good for ninth in the country––and that number is even more impressive against MAC opponents. In their last four conference clashes, Bowling Green has allowed 25 points total. That's good for 6.25 points per game.
But Ohio will be up for the task, especially as they employ one of the most balanced offenses in the country.
Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin have combined for 1,513 yards on the ground this season, including 200 last week against Eastern Michigan. Junior Tyler Tettleton, meanwhile, dazzled last week, throwing three touchdowns and seeming to regain his footing after the Miami loss. His 15:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is among the best in college football, as he refuses to let Ohio beat themselves.
Ohio showed incredible resolve in bouncing back from their undefeated season-crushing loss against Miami last week.
Tonight, they'll prove themselves mentally and physically tough enough to resist looking ahead, and finish their home schedule undefeated.