Bowling Green comes to town Wednesday night for a showdown between two MAC East rivals. The Falcons (6-3, 4-1) are riding a five-game win streak and will be rested coming off their bye week.
The Falcons have the nation’s ninth-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 15.2 points per game and will present a daunting challenge to Ohio’s high-flying offense.
“This will be probably the best defense we’ve played,” said Ohio head coach Frank Solich. “If you look at them, the last four or five games, they’ve really shut people down. We’re gonna have to find a way to move the football with some consistency.”
Bowling Green’s defense is led by mammoth senior defensive tackle Chris Jones, who is tied for the country's lead in sacks with 11.5. Ohio knows they will have their hands full with Jones and the rest of the BGSU defense.
"He can cause you problems, so you got to be aware of where he’s at. The problem that you have is that the other guys surrounding him are also very quick and good pass rushers. They’re a fast defensive football team. Their upfront people are very aggressive. They penetrate, they got great quickness," said Solich.
The Bobcats will look to establish the running game early as they have all season, led by a stellar offensive line and running backs Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin. That said, Solich knows his team may not be able to rely on the run to carry them as they have in past games.
"You can’t be one-dimensional. They’ve shut down the run first but they’ve done a great job of forcing turnovers when you do throw, so that’s a huge problem. You’re gonna have a few opportunities, when they come you gotta take advantage of them.”
Wednesday's game will be the last home game for the 21 seniors on the roster. Solich knows the impact this class has made, having been the winningest class in Ohio football history, and he is appreciative of all they've contributed to Ohio.
"There’s a number of really talented seniors that are gonna be leaving the program. It’s been a great group. They’ve really recognized what we want to accomplish with the program through their career. They’ve done everything they can to help us continue to take steps forward. It’s a group that’s got the big picture. They understood what we wanted to get accomplished with our program and they set about doing it from day one when they stepped on campus, and they’ve been great at moving this program forward."
Expect a hostile environment at Peden Stadium Wednesday night. The game will serve as this year's 'Blackout,' where all in attendance will be encouraged to wear black. In last year's 'Blackout' game, Ohio came back to beat Temple 35-31 in a thriller.
“It’s always important to have a great crowd and have them into the game and I believe that will be the case," added Solich. "We’ve been getting great support and obviously continued support coming down the stretch is gonna be important."
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
Marlowe Alter is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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