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Homecoming preview: Ohio Bobcats

Homecoming+preview%3A+Ohio+Bobcats
Drake Harlett

Week four of college football is here and it is shaping up to be a big one for many teams across the country.

That includes right here in northwest Ohio, where the Bowling Green Falcons welcome the Ohio Bobcats to Doyt Perry Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Bowling Green also welcomes back their faithful alumni as it is homecoming for the Falcons, which adds to all of the suspense of the game. 

These two teams met last year on the final week of college football in Athens. In that game, the winner took home the MAC East Division, where the Bobcats defeated the Falcons 38-14. 

But it’s a new year for both teams and Bowling Green  head coach Scot Loeffler, who had high praise for the Bobcats team and reflects on last year’s game.

“I think Ohio is an outstanding football team; It came down to us and them last year, and when you watch the tape, they physically beat our tails, inside and out,” said Loeffler at Monday’s press conference. “It’s going to be a huge challenge, they’ve got one of the better quarterbacks, if not the best quarterback in the league. Defensively, they’re ruthless. They play as hard as any defense in our conference, and we’ve got a huge challenge considering a lot of adversity that we have to handle through personnel right now.” 

That adversity Loeffler talks about all stems back to the game against Michigan last week where we saw a lot of players leave the game with injuries, including quarterback Camden Orth, and linebacker Demetrius Hardamon, who had to be carted off the field with a orthopedic injury, to which he has been recovering well.

So the adversity is there but Loeffler isn’t backing down 

“There’s a lot of room for excuses right now but there is none,” said Loeffler. “Whenever you look at how many injuries you have right now, or not being able to make a game plan until late in the week. There’s a ton of excuses but at the end of the day no one cares” said Loeffler on Monday.  

Loeffler can also assure us that his 11 guys on the field at all times will play their hearts out. 

“The players on the field I can promise you will play their hearts out and we will have a good game plan,” said Loeffler. “This is the opener in the MAC, this is how critical it can get and I love how they scheduled it, it came down to us and them last year and now we play in week four” 

Offensive lineman Kameron Stewart also assured fans that he’s going to play his best come Saturday.

“It’s guns blazing, balls to the walls,” said Stewart. “If we don’t come out and make a statement then we probably won’t get the results we want. It’s our job, especially being an offensive lineman to lead the way.” 

Ohio is coming off a huge victory against Big 12 member Iowa State, where the Bobcats defeated the Cyclones 10-7 in a thriller in Athens.

Head coach Tim Albin is ready for yet another big matchup this Saturday.

“Going to Bowling Green, looking forward to having this momentum,” said Albin on Monday. “Two programs that are very familiar with each other, Scot [Loeffler] does a great job, of course, we played not that long ago, here at Peden (Stadium), and the winner advanced to Detroit.” 

Albin knows the environment he’s walking into and is looking forward to the opportunity.

“We’re looking forward to going on the road,” said Albin. “I believe it’s Bowling Green’s homecoming, should be a packed house, another hostile environment, which we’ve had a couple of those already. Hopefully, we can put our best foot forward this Saturday on the road.” 

Ohio comes into this week facing some offensive struggles, failing to top 20 points in three of their four games this season.  

Quarterback Kurtis Rourke has struggled this year, still getting himself back to 100 percent after tearing his ACL at the end of the 2022 campaign. 

 

On Monday, Ohio Bobcats’ backup quarterback CJ Harris announced via the team’s X account that due to a recent medical emergency, he “has been advised to not play any more games this season” and to “focus on recovery.”

We’ve seen Harris a few times this season playing in two games, replacing an injured Kurtis Rourke against San Diego State, and starting in his place against Long Island. He passed for 248 yards on 25-for-49 passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Harris also started last year’s Barstool Bowl where Ohio defeated Wyoming 30-27.

Grad transfer Parker Navarro will take over as the backup. Navarro has only seen action in one game with Ohio, completing five of seven passes for 60 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. 

Back to Rourke, he has completed 42 of 71 pass attempts for 413 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  

Cornerback Jordan Oladokum says it won’t be any different as far as the game plan goes to get to the Rourke this week.

“Just trying to put pressure on him [Rourke] as much as we can just like any other week, just like we did to JJ McCarthy and we’ll handle everything else in the backend,” said Oladokun.

The defense, however, is not only one of the conference’s best units but one of the country’s best. 

“They are physical, when you watch that defensive front seven for them, they are physical,” said Loeffler. “When you run a gap scheme or a zone scheme they are downhill, they wanna kill you. So this team we’re playing against is really really physical and an aggressive defense.”

Ohio has held their opponents to 11.8 points per game, which is 14th in the nation, better than some of the more nationally recognized defenses like, Auburn, and Alabama. They rank sixth in the nation in total yards allowed, only giving up 245 yards a game, which is better than Georgia, Clemson, and Oregon State. 

“You gotta find a way to go compete against the MAC East champions; we’re good enough to beat them,” said Loeffler. “We’re gonna have to adapt and adjust. We’re gonna get the next guy up and find a way to compete against a really really good program. I think they do it right. I said this last year, I thought they were the best team in the MAC, I don’t know if they had the most talent and I know they didn’t win it but they play they play together, they don’t make mistakes, they don’t beat themselves. So we have a huge challenge and we’ve been looking forward to this game because we know how good they are.”

Stewart knows how good this defensive line is for Ohio but it doesn’t matter to him and the rest of his lineman. 

It’s about them. 

“Honestly it’s really just stopping penetration, making sure we’re communicating and making sure we hit our gaps and using proper footwork. It’s really just as simple as doing our job,” said Stewart. “It’s never really about who we play, it’s always about us” 

This Saturday should be a fun one at the Doyt. With homecoming and all it’s festivities along with how big this game is for MAC play, one thing that all Falcon players have been agreeing on: the energy the Falcon fanatics bring 

“Last year against Marshall, those vibes were incredible, immaculate. We want this place packed to the brim. We really want every single Falcon fan we can get in here. Show everyone the energy we’re bringing to Bowling Green,” said Stewart 

Loeffler also added how much he wants the Doyt packed.

“Let’s get everyone at the Doyt, it’s gonna be a big one, we’re gonna need you,” said Loeffler. “It’s gonna be a beautiful day, and we need this stadium rocking and rolling and we need this student section going. I can promise you we will find a way to play our tails off” 

Kickoff on Saturday afternoon is set to be at 3:30. Join Sean Connelly and Tyler Kavalecz on the call on Falcon Radio starting around 3:15. 

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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