The Ohio Bobcats came into the 2019 season as MAC East favorites, but they will roll into Buffalo on Saturday just 1-3 on the season. Coming off a bye last week, the Bobcats will look to get the ship righted heading into MAC play against the 2-3 (0-1) Buffalo Bulls. The pre-season hype was around the Bobcats because they returned star QB Nathan Rourke but they also lost their top two RBs, top two WRs, as well as two first team and one second team all-MAC offensive linemen.
Ohio’s offense starts and ends with MAC Player of the Year front-runner QB Nathan Rourke. Buffalo fans will remember him from his seven combined TDs accounted for in his two career games against the Bulls. Rourke is a dual threat QB, he leads the Bobcats in rushing through four games with 187 yards, and has thrown for 857 more. In the backfield the Bobcats have had four RBs that have taken between 13 and 32 carries on the season due to injuries. Starter O’Shaan Allison is likely out for the game, and backups De’Montre Tuggle, and Julian Ross are both questionable for the game on Saturday. The Bobcat receiving corps is also a balanced group, WR Shane Hooks leads the way with 157 yards and 2 TDs on the season. In addition to Hooks the Bobcats have 3 other players with north of 130 yards including TE Ryan Luehrman with 133 yards and 2 TDs on the season. The loss of 3 talented linemen to graduation has also been an issue for the Bobcats, with just 45 career starts (103rd in the nation) along the line coming into the season it’s an inexperienced group. The inexperience has shown itself through four games, allowing 10 sacks, including six in their match-up with Pitt.
The Ohio defense has struggled so far this season giving up 45, 33, and 20 points in their 3 FBS matchups (all losses). The defense is led by returning first team all-MAC S Javon Hagan, Hagan plays a similar role to Bulls S Joey Banks. Each leads their respective teams in tackles, however Hagan has 39 tackles in 4 games, while Banks has 32 tackles in 5 games. DT Cole Baker leads the Bobcats with 2.5 sacks on the season to go along with 14 tackles. The Bobcats have forced just one turnover on the season, an interception recorded by CB Marlin Brooks.
While there was a lot of talk in the offseason about Ohio as MAC favorites, the Bobcats also lost a lot of talent from their 2018 squad. That’s shown itself through four games, and the game on Saturday figures to be a close one. The Bulls have the talent to win this game, and in front of a homecoming crowd, following a tough loss to Miami (OH), it’s a must win game if UB has aspirations of winning the MAC East.