Ohio Football: Takeaways and Game Balls from the Bobcats Win over Buffalo< < Back to
ATHENS, OH — For the first time in over a month, the Bobcats were able to put a game into the win column, but it was never easy.
In fact, they never held a lead in the game.
But a win is a win and it was one the ‘Cats needed desperately. Here are a few of my takeaways from Ohio’s 21-20 overtime win over Buffalo.
Bobcat Defense Takes Strides
After the loss to Louisiana a couple of weeks ago, many questions surrounded the Ohio defense, and for good reason. Statistically, after four games, they were on pace to be the worst defense of the Frank Solich era.
They ranked 115th out of 130 teams in total defense (97th against the pass and 118th stopping the run) and had generated just two takeaways with neither of them coming with the outcome of the game still in doubt.
In Buffalo, however, the ‘Cats showed that the bye week was used well on the defensive side of the ball. Not including overtime, Ohio held the Bulls to their lowest offensive output of the season, 353 yards. Even with overtime, the ‘Cats held a Buffalo ground game that averaged 240 yards a game to just 181 yards.
Given the circumstances, I see that as a win for the Bobcats defense.
The issue of missed tackles improved slightly but didn’t go away. A missed tackle on Buffalo’s first possession of the game led to a 61-yard gain on a short pass that set the Bulls up with 1st and Goal. Four plays later, they scored. A few runs later in the game were aided by missed tackles as well, but it wasn’t nearly as prevalent of an issue.
Lastly, the turnover belt came out for the first time with the game on the line when Eric Popp forced Buffalo QB Kyle Vantrease to fumble and Javon Hagan fell on the loose ball.
The defense is still not quite at the level it will need to be to win a MAC East title, let alone a MAC Championship, but there was certainly a marked improvement by the unit against Buffalo.
Allison Bullies Buffalo
For the first time since the second half of the game against Marshall on September 14, the Bobcats got to use their top backfield option in O’Shaan Allison.
It was clear to see by the end of the game why the redshirt freshman won the starting running back job out of fall camp.
The stat line may not come off as all that impressive (96 yards on 27 carries), but he was a workhorse all afternoon for the ‘Cats, gradually wearing away at the Buffalo defense.
Breaking the game down by quarters shows this well, actually.
- Q1: 4 carries, 15 yards
- Q2: 7 carries, 16 yards
- Q3: 8 carries, 28 yards
- Q4/OT: 9 carries, 41 yards, 2 TDs
The Bobcats lone overtime possession consisted entirely of Allison runs. It took him five to find the end zone. Allison’s 27 carries is by far the most by any Bobcat so far in 2019 and he only got better as the game went along. De’Montre Tuggle was the only other running back to carry the ball on Saturday and he only did so three times.
It’s clear that the Bobcats wanted to lean on Allison and he responded in a big way despite just coming off of being injured.
As I mentioned earlier, Saturday was definitely not a decisive win for the ‘Cats.
They were outgained in total yardage, the pass defense allowed 197 yards to a team that was starting their backup QB and came into the game averaging just 126 yards a game, and they were either trailing or tied for the entire 60-minute duration of the game.
Nathan Rourke was sacked four times and the Bobcats still lost the turnover battle, bringing their season differential to minus-7.
But despite all that, the Bobcats did what teams aspiring to win a championship do; they won anyway.
The defense stepped up when they needed to, forcing the Bulls to punt three times in the final 17 minutes of the game. The offense came back from a touchdown deficit twice in the second half against the top-ranked defense in the MAC.
Winning ugly games is something good teams have to do.
For the first time since I started these weekly takeaways, the Bobcats got the W. So it’s time to give out a couple of game balls.
The redshirt freshman came off the injured list and took the handoff from Nathan Rourke 27 times on Saturday afternoon with the task of running full speed into the best rush defense in the MAC.
He ultimately won that battle and capped it off with the game-winning touchdown.
Bobcats Defensive Front 7
Much like Allison, the ‘Cats defense was faced with the challenge of stopping a Bulls ground game that ranked 18th in the country, and contrary to what the stats sheet may say, performed very well in slowing down Buffalo.
181 yards may seem like a lot of rushing yards to give up, but that’s 60 yards less than Buffalo averaged coming into the game. The two-headed monster the Bulls had at running back was limited to just one as the game went on and the defense started the game by making a goal-line stand to keep the Bulls off the scoreboard early.
There’s still room for improvement, but the ‘Cats front seven did their job on Saturday.