Peden Stadium -- Athens, OH
By EVAN MEYER
As the 2016 MidAmerican Conference football season enters its final week of regular season play, there is still a lot to play for -- especially for the Ohio Bobcats and the Akron Zips, who will battle it our Tuesday night in Athens.
For the 'Cats, they are in the drivers seat to win the Eastern Division title for the fourth time in school history. Despite seeing their three-game winning streak come to an end last week at Central Michigan, all they need is a win over UA or a Miami loss on Tuesday to Ball State and they will be heading to Detroit and the Marathon MAC Championship Game.
For the Zips, who have . . .
Here is a look at the two teams as they play the finale in Southeast Ohio
LAST TIME OUT: The Zips last played on November 9, when they lost to Bowling Green, 38-28, in the home finale at InfoCision Stadium. UA came back from a 28-10 deficit early in the third quarter to tie the game, 28-28, in the fourth period, only to see the Falcons score the last 10 points thanks to two costly turnovers.
During the game, both starting QB Thomas Woodson and backup Travon Chapman, left the game with injuries. Senior WR Tyrell Goodman became the emergency quarterback and completed seven-of-10 passes. His biggest completion was a 64 yarder to junior WR Jerome Lane, who led all receivers in the game with five catches for 97 yards. Sophomore RB Van Edwards paced the ground attack with 84 yards on 20 carries and a second quarter score. The defense forced two turnovers and were led by DB Alvin Davis who had 13 total tackles (eight of them solo)
ZIPS SEASON TO DATE: The Zips went 2-2 in their non-conference schedule with a home win over Virginia Military to open the season and a road victory at Marshall. Their losses came on the road at nationally ranked Wisconsin and at home to Appalachian State.
UA opened MAC play with a pair of wins first at Kent State then at home against Miami. After being shut out at home by nationally ranked Western Michigan, the Zips rebounded with a victory at Ball State before the losses at Buffalo and to the Rockets.
OFFENSE: UA is averaging 23.7 points and 373.1 yards per game
RUSHING: Van Edwards 97 carries – 485 yards three touchdowns
PASSING: Thomas Woodson 146-242-7 2079 yards 19 touchdowns
RECEIVING: Jerome Lane 58 receptions- 963 yards- six touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Zips are allowing 33.3 points and 453.4 yards per game
TACKLES: Ulysses Gilbert (63-53-116)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Gilbert 11.5-57 yards
SACKS: Gilbert 4-36
INTERCEPTIONS: Kyron Brown 3-68
PASS BREAKUPS: Bryce Jones with eight
PUNTING: Nick Gasser 53-38.2 average
PLACE KICKING: Tom O’ Leary 66 points (9-9 FG/ 39-42 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Van Edwards 21-24.3
PUNT RETURNS: JoJo Natson 16-16.3 (TD)
ZIPS NOTES: The 64-yard touchdown pass by Tyrell Goodman to Jerome Lane was the longest pass play this season and the 89 yard drive the longest of 2016…WR Jerome Lane needs 37 receiving yards to become only the third Zip in school history with 1000 yards in a season (Jabari Arthur 1,171 in 2007 and Domenik Hixon in 2005 1,210 the others)…Goodman’s TD pass to Lane was the Zips 25th of the season second most in school history…PK Tom O’Leary connected on two field goals against the Falcons and is a perfect 9-for-9 so far this season. His 45-yarder in the third quarter was the longest of his career…QB Thomas Woodson is fifth on the Zips all-time passing yardage list with 5,087 yards and his 39 career TD passes is third all-time…WR JoJo Natson’s 10 receiving touchdowns is second all time and first in the FBS era
THE SERIES: The game is the 33rd in the series between the two schools, with the Bobcats holding a 19-12-1 edge. They have won the last eight meetings in the series, including last year’s encounter at InfoCision Stadium 17-14…Ohio is 13-3 in the 16 previous games in Athens (all at Peden Stadium)…UA’s last win in the series was 2007 at the Rubber Bowl, 48-37, and its last win at Ohio was 2004 31-19.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bobcats saw their three-game winning streak come to an end last week when they lost to Central Michigan at Kelly Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, 27-20. Trailing 17-3 in the third quarter the 'Cats fought back to tie the score 20-20 early in the fourth quarter. The game remained tied until the Chippewas scored on a touchdown pass by Cooper Rush to Tyler Calhoun with 3:51 remaining. OU won the statistical battle, 357-286. Dorian Brown had 91 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. QB Quentin Maxwell was 13-of-36 passing for 208 yards with a score and an interception. The defense was led by Quentin Poling with eight total tackles (seven solo)
OHIO SEASON TO DATE: The Bobcats went 2-2 in non-conference play with wins at Kansas and at home to Gardner-Webb while being surprised by Texas State in Athens going triple overtime then a close loss at nationally ranked Tennessee. Ohio opened MAC play with wins at arch-rival Miami and at home against Bowling Green. Following a narrow loss at home to Eastern Michigan the 'Cats ran off three straight wins with road victories at Kent State and Toledo while beating Buffalo at home before the streak ended last week at CMU
OFFENSE: Ohio is averaging 28.5 points and 413.5 yards per game
RUSHING: Dorian Brown 126 carries – 747 yards four touchdowns
PASSING: Quentin Maxwell 75-135-4 1078 yds. eight touchdowns
RECEIVING: Sebstian Smith 46 receptions- 790 yards four touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Bobcats are allowing 23.4 points and 371.9 yards per game
TACKLES: Blair Brown (55-41-96)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Terrell Basham 12.5 – 73 yards
SACKS: Basham 9-61
INTERCEPTIONS: Javon Hagan 3-120
PASS BREAKUPS: Chad Moore with seven
PUNTING: Michael Farkas 60-47.7 yds. per kick
PLACE KICKING: Louis Zervos 97 pts (22-27 FG/31-32 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Kyle Bellack 18-21.3 yds. per return
PUNT RETURNS: Papi White 9-29
OHIO NOTES: LB Terrell Basham has nine sacks so far this season -- tied for the most in a single season…As a team the Bobcats have 37 quarterback straps one short of the school record and is ninth in the FBS…The Ohio rush defense leads the MAC allowing just 106 yards per game on the ground and is ninth in the FBS after yielding just 18 yards to CMU…Ohio’s eight consecutive year of bowl eligibility is the longest current streak in the MAC and only 15 other schools have longer streaks.