Published Sat, Sep 17, 2011 11:36 pm Dateline
Updated Mon, Sep 19, 2011 3:59 pm
Following years of tradition, most Ohio University students filed out of Peden Stadium just after halftime. By then, though, they had seen all they would need to see.
Ohio scored 37 unanswered points - starting at the ten-minute mark of the first quarter - to beat Marshall 44-7 and reclaim the Bell Trophy that had eluded it for 11 years.
Ohio's last win in the rivalry with Marshall came on November 18, 2000, and the Herd had beaten Ohio 12 of the last 14 times the bell was rung. But with a statement performance, the Bobcats made it clear: this 2011 Bobcat team is different than any Frank Solich has coached in his seven years at Ohio.
Ohio forced six first-half turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) and totally rattled Marshall's true freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato.
On the other side, Ohio's Tyler Tettleton played his best game as the starting quarterback, completing 20 of 29 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns - two of which were on runs after bubble screens by Phil Bates and LaVon Brazill.
"I think we ran that play about 10 or 15 times," Tettleton said. "[Marshall] kept showing the same defense, and it was an easy read for me. The receivers did a great job when they caught the ball."
Tettleton has 10 total touchdowns in three games as Ohio's starting quarterback (seven passing, three rushing).
"He's been impressive this year." He's admitted he was a little nervous at the beginning of the year...but he's a very composed quarterback and nothing gets him down.
"You're not always going to be perfect at that spot, but if you can keep from being down and your body language is positive to your teammates...our players really believe in him. Right now, our offense has been impressive with the amount of points it has put up in the first three games."
Not just impressive, but historic. The 118 points Ohio has scored in the first three games are third-highest all-time for a Bobcat team, and Ohio has outscored opponents 64-0 in the second quarter alone.
To put it lightly, Marshall was unable to tackle Ohio running back Donte Harden, who finished the first half with eight carries for 42 yards, three receptions for 45 yards and a 70-yard kickoff return. Harden was hurt late in the first half and didn't return in the second, but he looked possessed.
"I thought he had some tremendous runs," Solich said. "It's been a while since I've seen a back perform that well, in terms of broken tackles."
Ohio sported new uniforms - black pants and tops with green lettering - for this episode of the "Battle For the Bell," and maybe the new digs helped signify that this season is just plain different than any other Athens has ever seen.
By halftime, there was little doubt Ohio would improve to 3-0 for the first time since 1976, but the fashion in which it decimated Marshall was at least surprising if not absolutely shocking.
The 'Cats rushed 55 times for 271 yards, making their season total an astounding 145 carries for 786 yards.
This was supposed to be the real start of Ohio's schedule, after two marginally talented opponents to start the season. Consensus said the Herd would at least provide Ohio its first stiff test of the season.
Neither was true of Saturday's 55th meeting between the teams.
This Ohio team is not only talented, but after a thorough handling of their nearest rival it is supremely confident. In fact, even before kickoff, Ohio wide receiver Riley Dunlop dared say the forbidden phrase: "Undefeated season."
That may be well outside Ohio's reach, especially with a trip to Rutgers on the horizon next Saturday, but this win symbolized what many thought before the season. With this season's schedule as weak as it is, and with Noah Keller and LaVon Brazill returning for their fifth years, maybe Ohio football's slogan is true.
Maybe it is "OUr Time."