Football, much like other sports, offer you very little time to celebrate your accomplishments. A memorable, season-defining win awards you just a few hours to soak in the success. You’ve got to be able to turn the page quickly.
That’s exactly what Ohio will be asked to do this week following an emotional 45-24 win over Buffalo on Tuesday.
The win allowed the Bobcats to control their own destiny the rest of the season, something nearly unfathomable coming into the year. They went up against the top team in the conference and came out with a dominant win, it had to have taken some out of Ohio just to put all the effort and focus into winning that battle.
Now they have the privilege of coming down from that high just to go on the road and face off against a bitter rival. They’ll be matched up against a 4-5 Miami (OH) team that will desperately be looking to spoil the Bobcats season.
It’ll be another matchup loaded with emotion, something Tim Albin is ready to prepare for.
“I think it’s a great time to be playing who we are right now coming off that big win,” he said to the media on Thursday when asked about the emotions of the Miami game. “You throw the records out, it doesn’t matter what your records are… it’s a great rivalry game. It’s great for the fans, it’s great for our conference. I’m super excited. It’s a mutual respect thing.”
Albin mentioned multiple times to the media that it’s going to be a tough game despite the record Miami is boasting right now. They’ve had their own issues that have allowed them to fall into such a hole.
First, there’s a legitimate reason why Miami has had such an issue scoring points, touting just under 20 points per game. Brett Gabbert, one of the preseason picks for player of the year in the Mid-American Conference, has been hurt for a majority of the season and the Redhawks have had to work around that. It’s not from a lack of talent that they haven’t scored, it’s the misfortune they’ve had to deal with.
With their lack of production on the offensive side of the ball being so significant, they’re playing at the level of a team that shouldn’t even be 4-5 from that aspect.
What’s saved them is their defense, which is legitimately elite within the conference. The Redhawks are the best defensive team in the MAC by a considerable margin. They allow only 21 points per game, five points less than the next closest team. It’ll be a great matchup with Ohio boasting one of the more efficient offenses in the nation, but it will certainly be a tough task.
Overall, Miami’s defense is elite, but there are areas where they can be beat. Their run defense is dominant, and with the injury situation in the Ohio backfield, it would be tough to expect the Bobcats make serious noise in the ground game.
The Redhawks are more middle-of-the-pack when it comes to pass defense though. With how Kurtis Rourke and the rest of the receiving unit has stepped up this year, Ohio will still have the opportunity to score a bunch of points if they can continue to be efficient through the air.
“They are stopping the run, making teams one dimensional. The quarterback is back there in the pocket and their front seven are able to put pressure and cause some mistakes,” Albin said about what strengths Miami has. “Nothing against there offense, but they’re in every game based on what they’re getting done defensively, that’s a fact.”
If the Bobcats can find a way to win out the rest of the season, they’ll have their ticket punched to Detroit. As much as Athens wants to be there though, there’s a group of people in Oxford who are wishing for nothing more than for them to be the reason that Ohio doesn’t make it to the MAC championships.