The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 56: Ohio

Ohio analysis compiled by Matt Murschel.

Coach: Frank Solich (50-40, eighth season; 108-59 13 seasons overall)


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2011 record: 10-4 (6-2 in Mid-American Conference, first in East Division)

Look back: It was a banner year for Frank Solich and the Bobcats. The program won ten games for the first time in over four decades. Ohio captured the East Division and lost a nail-bitter against Northern Illinois in the league championship game. It was the team’s sixth game that was decided by seven points or less. Ohio qualified for its 10th postseason bowl game and in typical fashion for its season, the Bobcats pulled off a come-from-behind victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Offensive starters lost/returning: 7/5

Defensive starters lost/returning: 6/6

Key losses: RB Donte Harden, WR LaVon Brazill, WR Riley Dunlop, LB Noah Keller, S Gerald Moore

Top returnees: QB Tyler Tettleton, WR Donte Foster, DT Carl Jones, NT Neal Huynh, LB JeLani Woseley

Strengths: Frank Solich’s no-huddle offense was a huge hit last season – ranking fourth in the league in total offense (446.4 yards per game) and fifth in scoring (30.5 points per game) – thank in part to quarterback Tyler Tettleton. The sophomore combined for close to 4,000 yards of total offense with 38 total touchdowns. … The defensive line returns three starters including tackles Carl Jones and Neal Huynh, who should help provide some consistency, which is important considering this unit struggled to get to the quarterback lasst season.

Weaknesses: Receivers LaVon Brazill and Riley Dunlop combined for over 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns and were key components to the Bobcats success in 2011. Donte Foster, who was third on the team in receiving yards, will be called upon to pick up the slack and help Tettleton. … Another piece missing from last season’s team is running back Donte Harden, who rushed for 986 yards. He was also the team’s leading kick returner as well. … Ohio’s defense ranked fourth in the conference in total defense, in part, due to linebacker Noah Keller, who helped anchor the unit. Keller led the team with 116 total tackles.
Outlook: Ohio was strong on both sides of the ball last season and return a good portion of the pieces from that team. The program appears to be headed in the right direction under Solich – two East Division titles in the past three seasons and garnering their first bowl victory in school history. The schedule appears to favor the team as well with winnable games against New Mexico State and Marshall as well as non-conference opponents Norfolk State.

2012 Schedule
Sept. 1 Penn State
Sept. 8 New Mexico State
Sept. 15 at Marshall
Sept. 22 Norfolk State
Sept. 29 at UMass
Oct. 6 Buffalo
Oct. 13 Akron
Oct. 27 at Miami (Ohio)
Nov. 1 Eastern Michigan
Nov. 7 Bowling Green
Nov. 14 at Ball State
Nov. 23 at Kent State

Rest of the countdown:

No. 57 Temple

No. 58 Purdue

No. 59 Arkansas State

No. 60 Vanderbilt

No. 61 Connecticut

No. 62 Arizona State