The Ohio Bobcats achieved something on Saturday versus the other Bobcats of Texas State that they hadn’t in over two full seasons: Frank Solich’s club generated 50 or more points in a game, topping the half-century mark for the first time since the final week of the 2013 regular season.
50-plus is typically a decent recipe for victory, but the Midwest Bobcats fell short, 56-54. No, it wasn’t exactly a game in which both teams matched each other score for score and the Green ‘Cats just fell shy; Ohio needed 22 fourth-quarter points to claw back, and tacked on another 16 over the course of three overtimes to primp a rather deceptive stat line.
54 points and nothing to show for it — could the ‘hangover’ effect be present for Ohio in Week 2?
Nobody wants to start off on the wrong foot, nor does any program want to succumb to a Sun Belt team who was receiving three scores, per the Vegas sportsbooks. Despite ending the opening week on a sour note, however, Solich understands the importance of getting back on the horse.
Accept defeat, and just move on.
“We’ve got to find the answers real quick and we’ve got to go about improving, and that’s the thing I’m looking at doing,” Solich told Ohio’s The Athens Messenger. “I’m not discouraged with this football team at all.
“I think this is a team with too much spirit, too much heart, and too much drive to not learn and not get better from that first football game. They will not accept what transpired in that game very lightly and they’ll be ready to move on and prove themselves.”
The bad: A loss in a home opener to Texas State — not a good look. Imagine similar scenarios, though. The Tennessee Volunteers were 21-point favorites over the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Knoxville would be out for Butch Jones’ head had the Vols let their Week 1 opener slip.
Ohio quietly lost, as 17-point favorites — at home — to Texas State, a program that hadn’t scored a road win since November 2014.
The good: Did anyone set the bar high for Ohio in 2016, or even set a bar at all?
The Bobcats might be the best team that everyone forgets about in the MAC. They aren’t as efficient on offense as the Bowling Greens or Toledos, and don’t boast a stout defense like the Akrons or Central Michigans. That’s not even accounting for the stature of Northern Illinois or Western Michigan. Ohio is a sneaky-good team with a coach who’s familiar with success. Solich is just your run-of-the-mill winner who’s strung together seven consecutive .500 or better seasons and six bowl bids over that span.
Week 1 provided an opportunity for Ohio to reinforce its steadiness. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Now’s the time for the program to return to the drawing board, because Week 2 is as clean a slate as it gets for Solich and company.
The Kansas Jayhawks were pegged to take 1.5 games (yes, you can win half a game solely based on effort) in 2016. The next roadblock for Rock Chalk in surpassing its annual win total is an Ohio offense that found life in the second half against Texas State under first-year starting quarterback Greg Windham — another section of the ‘good’ category.
His four touchdown passes on the evening flowed from late-game comfort after early struggles. His first scoring strike didn’t come until the 11:30 mark in the fourth quarter. High atop Windham’s priority list is riding that momentum into Saturday despite a slash in the loss column.
first-game first-half jitters are a mere memory for the senior quarterback, and he’ll be presented with a legitimate challenge in Week 2 — on paper that is. A win over the bottom-feeder of the Big 12 might not feel that substantial, but as Solich has proved over the last seven seasons, wins are wins are wins are wins.
Many chances for “dubyas” are scattered around the schedule: Ohio still has Gardner-Webb, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan in Athens, as well as Miami (OH).
The Bobcats’ pulse needs to beat more rapidly versus Kansas. From there, just keep chugging along, Ohio.