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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gillette Stadium (68,756) -- Foxborough, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Ohio 2-0, UMass 0-1. Away Record: Ohio 2-0, UMass 0-3. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, UMass 0-0. Conference Record: Ohio 0-0, UMass 0-1. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio University Bobcats continue their quest for perfection as they head to Gillette Stadium to take on the Mid-American Conference's newest addition, the Massachusetts Minutemen on Saturday.
Coach Frank Solich has his team playing with intensity this season after losing in the conference championship game in 2011. Ohio is 4-0 for the first time since 1976 and receiving votes in both major top 25 polls. The Bobcats enter the contest as the only undefeated team in the MAC and just one of 27 teams without a loss on the FBS level. Last week's win gave the team its 10th win in its last 11 outings.
The Minutemen's transition to the FBS continued its rocky trend as they lost, 27-16, to Miami-Ohio in their MAC debut this past week. The loss was the seventh in a row for the program dating back to last season. Despite being defeated, UMass managed to produce season-highs of 16 points and 471 yards of total offense. The 0-4 Minutemen try to turn it around this week against Ohio in their first-ever home game as a member of the MAC.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the programs in history. The game will be played at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, while the Minutemen's on-campus stadium undergoes renovations.
The Bobcats lead the MAC with averages of 36.5 points and 465 yards of total offense per game. The general of the offense is junior QB Tyler Tettleton. However, Tettleton was sidelined for last week's 44-10 victory over Norfolk State with an injury. He is listed as questionable for the team's conference opener this week.
If Tettleton is unable to return to action, Derrius Vick will be under center after submitting a strong performance in his first career start last week. Vick completed 14-of-20 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns to help OU roll past Norfolk State.
The pressure on Ohio's quarterbacks is minimized by its elite running back Beau Blankenship, who rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth consecutive week last week. Blankenship is ranked 10th in the FBS with an average of 122 yards per game. The junior is well on his way to breaking the school's single season record for rushing yards.
Defensively, the Bobcats lead the MAC in total defense (322.5 ypg) and scoring defense (18 ppg) despite facing a Big Ten opponent (Penn State) and the top passing offense in the nation (Marshall) already. Ohio is third in the FBS with a plus 2.5 average turnover margin. Junior linebacker Keith Moore has been the heart and soul of the defense and has recorded a team-best 29 total tackles.
Ohio is very strong against opposing rushing attacks, which is dreadful news for the Minutemen's top weapon. Running back Michael Cox gained a career-high 188 yards and two touchdowns to carry Massachusetts's offense in its loss to Miami this past week. Cox, who is a Michigan transfer, has gained 301 yards on the ground this season.
UMass has relied on Cox while its aerial attack has failed to get off the ground. Quarterback Mike Wegzyn has thrown for 561 yards and four interceptions without a touchdown through four games. Three of those picks came in last week's loss to Miami. Despite the turnovers, the team's quarterback has shown steady progression.
On the other side of the ball, UMass has allowed 43 points per contest through its first four games. Last week's 27 points and 375 yards of total offense allowed to Miami were the lowest totals by an opponent this season.
Senior linebacker Perry is leading the squad with 38 tackles.
Ohio showed last week against an FCS opponent that it has a reliable backup quarterback, so there will be no rush to get Tettleton back into the mix this week against the struggling Minutemen. The Bobcats have a very realistic shot of going undefeated and becoming this season's BCS buster after surviving a pair of difficult road games in their non-conference slate. UMass has years to go before it will compete with the MAC's top tier programs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 42, Massachusetts 13
09/26 10:43:42 ET
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