Preview: Ohio Football Travels West for Season Opener

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Ohio heads to Las Cruces, New Mexico for the first game of 2011. The Bobcats are 13-point favorites over the Aggies. Here are some areas Ohio may have the advantage based on the 2010 season rankings.

1. Total Tackles for Loss:

New Mexico State tallied 42 tackles for loss last year, good for 119th out of the 120 FBS teams. Ohio did not rank much better at 90th with 67 tackles for loss.

The real advantage for Ohio is a decimated NMSU defensive line. The Aggies D-Line struggled last season and has already taken 3 major blows before the beginning of this year. Starting senior defensive end Donte Savage and sophomore defensive tackle Augafa Vaaulu were ruled academically ineligible, and starting defensive tackle Tommy Stuart went down on day one of August practices with a torn ACL. Those three players totaled 6 of the 42 tackles for loss last season.

2. Rush Yards Allowed per Game
New Mexico State’s defense also struggled to stop opposing rushers, allowing an average of 207 yards per game on the ground. The 207 yards was the 111th best average in the country. The Ohio rushing attack hasn’t been strong from the running back position the past three years. The last Ohio running back to rush for 1,000 yards was Kalvin McRae in 2007. Donte Harden, this year’s feature back, is experienced and ready to go. Throw in the already mentioned struggles of the Aggie defense in 2010, plus a veteran Ohio offensive line, and that could equal some large holes for number eight.

3. Sacks:
The Aggie defense did not fair well in the sack department either. NMSU only recorded 12 sacks (or 1 per game) in 2010.  Tyler Tettleton could leave with a clean jersey after his debut, thanks to his solid line and an opposing defense that doesn’t get much penetration in the trenches.

4. Scoring Defense:

The last Ohio good-New Mexico State bad comparison to note is the points allowed by the Aggies. In 2010, the Aggies’ defense gave up an average of 39.5 points per game. Ohio isn’t quite the offensive juggernaut that the Aggies see in the Boise States and Hawaiis in WAC play, but don’t sleep on the ‘Cats. The Ohio offense put up 27.5 points a game in 2010, so expect to see the scoreboard light up for the green-and-white. On the flip-side of the ball, the Cats’ defense allowed 23.7 points, while New Mexico State’s offense scored less than 16 per game.

The numbers are good for off-season debate, but it’s time to lace the cleats up and prove it on the field. Listeners in Ironton and Cambridge can hear the broadcast on 89.1 FM, those in Zanesville can tune into 90.1 FM, and if you are in Chillicothe dial in to 91.9 FM. Kick off is 8 p.m. EST and predicted game-time temperature is 98 degrees.