Ohio can clinch East Division with win over Akron tonight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007

There’s a college football showdown for first place in Ohio this week, but fans don’t have to wait until Saturday for it.

The Ohio Bobcats will host the Akron Zips at 7:30 tonight at Peden Stadium with the East Division title of the Mid-American Conference on the line.

The Bobcats are 5-1 in the MAC and 7-3 overall. A win over Akron would clinch the division title, the first title of any kind for Ohio since 1968 and pit them against Central Michigan in the MAC championship game Nov. 30.

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Akron is 5-5 on the season and 3-3 in the MAC. The Zips need to beat Ohio and Western Michigan next week and hope Ohio loses at Miami, OH, to gain a tie for the division title.

However, Akron would get the nod for the MAC championship game due to its head-to-head win over Ohio.

“We’ll need to move the ball on the ground,” Solich said. “If we get shut down there totally, and that’s pretty much what happened to us last year, it will be a struggle.”

Akron won the MAC last season and knocked off Ohio 27-3. The Bobcats have waited a year to redeem themselves.

“We were in that ball game for the first half last year even though we didn’t play well. If we can cut down on their big plays, we’ll be doing ourselves a big service in terms of trying to keep them from putting a lot of points on the board.”

Even though Akron is 5-5, Solich said it is no indication of how dangerous they are. One of the wins was 20-14 at North Carolina State while one loss was 20-14 at Cincinnati.

“I do think we’re playing an Akron football team that is playing on top of their game now, and there was a reason for them to be considered one of the very top teams in the MAC coming into the season,” Solich said.

“They won the championship last year and they have a great share of their players back. Offensively, they’re above 400 to 500 yards the last few games. They’re balanced running and passing.”

Ohio has had its own success against name programs. The Bobcats lost a tough 24-7 decision to unbeaten Rutgers

and won 20-17 at Illiniois which gave top-ranked Ohio State fits.

“I’ve been pleased with their attitude from day one with the idea that they believe in themselves,” Solich said. “I don’t want to overstate it, but they have believed in themselves and they’ve played like it.”

The Bobcats will have to believe they can stop Akron quarterback Luke Getsy who is 165 of 308 this season for 2,303 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has been intercepted just eight times.

“I think he’s as good of a passer as we’ve seen. He really throws the ball well. He has a strong arm. They make big plays through the passing game. He has the ability to scramble. He’s probably a better runner than what most people think,” Solich said.