The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 125 to our projected No. 1 team.
Today at No. 66: Ohio University
Coach: Frank Solich (59-44, ninth season; 117-63 overall)
2012 record: 9-4 (4-4 in Mid-American Conference, third in East)
Look back: Since taking over the program in 2005, Frank Solich has built Ohio back into a consistent football power in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats have had five winning seasons including last season and have found themselves in a postseason bowl in each of those years. Last season, Ohio jumped out to a 7-0 record before injuries took their toll on the program and the Bobcats finished with only two wins in their final six games including a 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl. It was only the program’s second victory in a postseason bowl game.
Offensive starters returning: 7
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 5
Defensive starters lost: 6
Key losses: WR Tyler Futrell, WR Bakari Bussey, LG JD Bales, C Skyler Allen, LB Alphonso Lewis, LB Jelani Woseley, DT Carl Jones, DE Corey Hasting, S Gerald Moore
Top returnees: QB Tyler Tettleton, RB Beau Blankenship, WR Donte Foster, LB Keith Moore, SS Josh Kristoff
Strengths: Ohio’s offense centers around quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who led the team in total offense (3,088 yards) last season despite suffering an abdominal injury. The Bobcats averaged close to 32 points per game led by a rushing attack that racked up more than 200 yards per game. Running back Beau Blankenship was a work horse for Frank Solich’s team, carrying the ball 312 times for 1,604 yards and 15 touchdowns. … Donte Foster was the team’s top receiver with 59 receptions for 659 yards and eight touchdowns. He will need senior Matt Waters (14/225) and junior Chase Cochran (22/377/4) to step up and provide Tettleton with other targets in 2013.
Weaknesses: The defense was the weakest point in Ohio’s game last season. The Bobcats gave up 388 yards per game and close to 25 points per game. The unit only returns five starters led by linebacker Keith Moore (98 tackles/2 sacks/2 INTs) and safety Josh Kristoff (60 tackles/3 PBU). The front seven lacks real experience with only defensive end Nic Barber having more than a handful of starts in 2012. Moore will shore up the middle of the defense, but there is little experience surrounding him at linebacker. … the offensive line will need to be rebuilt in 2013. The group only returns two starters: tackles John Prior and Ryan McGrath, who both started every game last season.
Outlook: Ohio is only one season removed from playing in the Mid-American Conference title game and has the talent to make another strong run in the East Division. The key will be developing young talent on the defensive line and keeping everyone healthy. If Tyler Tettleton can return to the form of 2011, then the Bobcats can compete especially with a relatively easy schedule in 2013.
Aug. 31 at Louisville
Sept. 7 North Texas
Sept. 14 Marshall
Sept. 21 Austin Peay
Oct. 5 at Akron
Oct. 12 Central Michigan
Oct. 19 at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 26 Miami (Ohio)
Nov. 5 at Buffalo
Nov. 12 at Bowling Green
Nov. 19 Kent State
Nov. 29 UMass
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