What Time Does The Minnesota Gophers Play Football Today College Football Week #10: Where Is Frank Solich?

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College Football Week #10: Where Is Frank Solich?

Have you ever wondered what happened to Frank Solich?

You remember the guy: He coached at the University of Nebraska for six seasons. He was the loyal lieutenant who took over the Cornhuskers from Tom Osborne, proof that it’s never good to be the guy who takes over from The Guy. After compiling a 64-19 record as Nebraska’s head coach, Solich was callously and controversially fired in favor of Beau Bridges. (Okay, no, it wasn’t Bo Bridges; it was Bill Callahan who looks like Bridges.)

Solich took a year off, then took over the dying football program at Ohio University in 2005 (which, if you’ll allow the digression, is quite a long way in prestige, if not geography, from Ohio State University). Jim Grobe turned Ohio into a good-not-great MAC team after taking over an 0-11 program in 1995, but Grobe jumped to Wake Forest after the 2000 season (and let’s be honest, he didn’t exactly have the best record at Ohio: 33 -33-1). Between Grow and Solich came four years of Brian Knorr, who undid almost everything Grow did, going 11-35. Solich took over last year, and went 4-7.

Things got better in 2006. Ohio is 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the always exciting MAC, currently tied with Kent St. in the MAC East (and they own the tiebreaker, having upset the Golden Flashes on the road last Sunday). It’s not a great team by MAC standards, but it has won four straight in conference play, including an upset win at the University of Illinois just three weeks ago. What has worked best for the Bobcats is their defense: They are currently 15th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game, and have picked off seven passes compared to allowing eight TDs. Ohio traveled to Rutgers, Missouri and Illinois (as well as a silly game against I-AA Tennessee-Martin); if you just count the team’s five conference games, they allowed just over 15 points and 278 total yards per game. In a typically high-flying MAC, that’s pretty good. The Bobcats have eight returning starters on offense, and they seem to want it there, especially on the ground: During this four-game winning streak, Ohio is averaging 26.5 points and 210 yards rushing per game. At the same time, they have the 108th best passing offense in Division 1 football; this is really a mini-Nebraska about three yards and a cloud of dust.

On the road against Eastern Michigan this week, I think it will work. The Eagles are 106th nationally in yards allowed per game (a whopping 181), and are also giving up 4.9 yards per carry. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a flashing red light. Eastern Michigan allowed 178 yards to Western Michigan last weekend, 175 to Toledo before that, 159 to Bowling Green before that, 179 to Louisiana-Lafayette before that, 176 to Central Michigan…oh hell, you get the idea. This huge number in rushing defense is not exceptional: The Eagles are challenged on the defensive side of the ball. Additionally, on offense, Jeff Genik’s team scored a MAC-worst 16 points per conference game. Three different quarterbacks have started for Gennick — Andy Schmidt, Tyler Jones and Dontayo Gage — but the team’s sacks and interceptions outnumber their touchdown passes. Overall, Eastern Michigan is 1-7 and 1-4 in MAC play.

Ohio has arguably been better at home than on the road, although their only conference loss came in Athens. Eastern Michigan has hosted just two games this year and will play three of the next four in Ypsilanti. This line opened in Ohio at 4.5, but quickly zoomed to 6.5. But the trends look good for the Bobcats, too. They are 4-0 against the spread during this modest winning streak, and 4-1 ATS in their conference games this year. Eastern Michigan, for its part, is 1-4 ATS against winning teams, and 2-5 ATS as a home underdog. Most of all, I love Solich’s running game, led by Calvin McCray and his 11 touchdowns, to dominate the clock and the scoreboard against Eastern Michigan’s blitz-challenged defense. The run to the MAC title continues this weekend, and I’ll take Ohio (-6.5) over Eastern Michigan.

Last week: Ohio State didn’t even bother to make it interesting against Minnesota, blasting the hapless Gophers, 44-0. Taking on the Buckeyes and giving up 27 points was the right thing to do, and so I’m extremely glad I recommended doing it. That coverage puts us at 6-3 against growth so far this year.

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