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College Football Week #10: Where Is Frank Solich?
Ever wonder what happened to Frank Solich?
You remember the guy: He was the coach at the University of Nebraska for six seasons. He was the loyal lieutenant who took over the Cornhuskers from Tom Osborne and is proof positive that being the guy is never a good thing. After compiling a 64-19 record as Nebraska’s head coach, Solich was rudely and controversially fired in favor of Bo Bridges. (Okay, no, it wasn’t Beau Bridges; it was Bill Callahan’s Bridges.)
Solich took a year off, then took over the football program at Ohio University in 2005 (if you allow the digression, Ohio State University goes a long way in prestige, if not geography). Jim Grobe turned Ohio into a good MAC team after taking over an 0-11 program in 1995, but Grobe jumped to Wake Forest after the 2000 season (and let’s face it, he didn’t exactly have the best record in 2000 Ohio: 33-33-1). Between Grobe and Solich came the four-year tenure of Brian Knorr, who undid almost everything Grobe had done going 11-35. Solich took over last year and went 4-7.
Things got better in 2006. Ohio is 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the always-exciting MAC, currently tied with Kent St. in the MAC East (and they own the tiebreaker, upending the last Golden Flashes on the road. week). It’s not a great team by MAC standards, but it has won four conference games at a high level, including an upset win at the University of Illinois just three weeks ago. What has gone best for the Bobcats has been their defense: they are currently 15th in the nation in passing yards per game and have picked off seven passes compared to allowing eight TDs. Ohio has traveled to Rutgers, Missouri and Illinois (as well as a silly game against I-AA Tennessee-Martin); if you count only the team’s five conference games, they only allowed more than 15 points and 278 yards per game. In a typically high-flying MAC, this is pretty good. The Bobcats have eight returning starters on offense and seem to thrive there, too, especially on the ground: During that four-game winning streak, Ohio State is averaging 26.5 points and 210 yards rushing per game. . At the same time, they have the 108th-ranked passing offense in Division 1 football; it’s actually a mini-Nebraska about three yards and a cloud of dirt.
On the road against Eastern Michigan this week, I think it will work. The Eagles rank 106th nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (181) and also give up 4.9 yards per carry. It’s a flashing red light as far as I’m concerned. Eastern Michigan allowed 178 rushing yards to Western Michigan last weekend, 175 to Toledo, 159 to Bowling Green before that, 179 to Louisiana-Lafayette before that, 176 to Central Michigan… That’s a huge rushing defense number. not too much: the eagles struggle on the defensive side of the ball. Additionally, on offense, Jeff Genick’s team scored a MAC-worst 16 points in a conference game. Three different quarterbacks started for Jenick — Andy Schmitt, Tyler Jones and Dontayo Gage — but the team’s sacks and interceptions outnumbered their touchdown passes. Overall, Eastern Michigan is 1-7 and 1-4 in MAC play.
Ohio has probably been better at home than on the road, though their only conference loss came in Athens. Eastern Michigan has only played two games so far and will play three of four in Ypsilanti. The line opened at 4.5 in Ohio, but quickly closed in at 6.5. But the trends are good for the Bobcats, too. They are 4-0 against the spread during this modest win and 4-1 ATS in their conference games this year. Eastern Michigan, meanwhile, is 1-4 ATS against winning teams and 2-5 ATS as a home underdog. Most of all, I like Solich’s running game, which dominated Calvin McRae and his 11 rushing touchdowns to dominate the clock and the plate against Eastern Michigan. The march to the MAC title game continues this weekend, and I’ll take Ohio (-6.5) over Eastern Michigan.
Last week: Ohio State didn’t even bother making it interesting against Minnesota, shutting out the Gophers 44-0. Taking on the Buckeyes and giving up 27 points was the right thing to do, and that’s why I’m so glad I recommended you do it. That cap puts us at 6-3 against the spread this year.
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