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Ohio made it to the MAC Championship game last year and still finished with six losses mainly due to losing that game as well as in their bowl. Frank Solich enters his 13th season as the head coach, but has yet to win the MAC, losing in all four of his title game appearances. With 14 returning starters, the Bobcats will remain competitive in the East, but once again may not have the tools to win the MAC.

Sophomore Quinton Maxwell returns at quarterback after playing half of last season, finishing with 8 TDs and 4 picks. The interesting news coming out of the spring is that Ohio is moving to a different offense, which will see Maxwell take snaps under center instead of out of the Pistol. After scoring 26.3 points per game last year, the hope is that the offense can be a bit more consistent in the passing game. The problem is that Ohio will be mostly inexperienced at wide out with Papi White (672 yards, 6 TDs) and Elijah Ball the expected top options. Under center or not, the Bobcats will still be mostly run-first with A.J. Ouellette back from injury to go with last year’s starter Dorian Brown (825 yards), as well as Maleek Irons (439 yards). The line returns three starters with all five projected guys coming in as upperclassmen.

Ohio has had one of the best defenses in the conference the last couple years, but it loses some talented players making this year a bit tougher than prior ones. Still, the Bobcats return six starters, so there shouldn’t be much of a drop off from last year’s 22.6 points allowed per game. The secondary returns most of the relevant experience led by safety Javon Hagan, but this group was also the worst part of last year’s team. Linebacker is set between Chad Moore and Quentin Poling, but the front four will be a work in progress without much depth behind seniors Cleon Aloese and Kevin Robbins.

Nothing stands out about this team, yet it continues to win and reach eight wins. Every game can be won in non-conference play, but it’s important to note Ohio lost to Texas State in the opener last season, so even games against Purdue and Kansas can’t be considered easy. The Bobcats get good tests out of the gate in MAC play with three road games out of four (at UMass included), but none of their road opponents are overwhelming. It also helps that Ohio gets to host its toughest competition with Toledo and Miami coming to town. Then again, this team lost to EMU at home last season so nothing is guaranteed.

Eight wins will be on the table for the Bobcats yet again (over/under is 7.5 at 5Dimes Sportsbook), but unless Maxwell really takes off at quarterback and is much improved from a year ago, it’s hard to see this team pulling out a MAC championship. Both sides of the ball will be respected, but nothing that will help this team blow out opponents. Still, Ohio has the same +550 odds at 5Dimes to win the conference as Miami (OH), showing that the East division is a toss-up.


2017 Ohio Bobcats Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Hampton
Sept. 8 at Purdue
Sept. 16 vs. Kansas
Sept. 23 at Eastern Michigan

Sept. 30 at Massachusetts
Oct. 7 vs. Central Michigan
Oct. 14 at Bowling Green

Oct. 21 vs. Kent State
Oct. 31 vs. Miami (OH)
Nov. 8 vs. Toledo
Nov. 14 at Akron
Nov. 24 at Buffalo

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