Northwestern’s third and final non-conference opponent of the season — the Ohio Bobcats — are coming to Evanston this Saturday. Northwestern has won three of the programs’ four previous meetings, with their last contest taking place in 2008, two seasons after Fitz’s tenure began. That being said, the Bobcats are not a regular opponent for NU, so let’s see what they’re all about.
They have not won a game since November 2020
Ohio University’s last victory took place on November 10, 2020 against MAC opponent Akron, who have won only one game since November 2020 themselves. The only caveat is OU only played three games last year due to COVID interference, so there isn’t really much to go off of other than recent contests. So far, the Bobcats have been outscored by an average of 20 points per game this season and have been out-rushed by an average of 128.3 yards per game to 253.7 yards per game by their opposition. The only team they’ve faced that’s somewhat comparable to Northwestern thus far has been Syracuse, to whom they lost in convincing fashion, 29-9. Therefore, any logical human would believe the Wildcats have little to worry about this Saturday. However, anyone who has watched this team with any regularity knows that Northwestern football is anti-logic at its core, and overlooking their seemingly overmatched foes could lead to a very bad loss for the ‘Cats.
Their offense is shifting its priorities
OU was an extremely run heavy offense last season, attempting 117 carries on the ground to just 54 passes thrown. However, three games into this season (the same number of games the Bobcats played last season), OU has only rushed the ball four more times than they’ve passed it. So far, this has meant utilizing last season’s offensive weapon of choice , De’Montre Tuggle, who racked up six touchdowns and 134 yards per game in 2020. Tuggle is now averaging 54.5 yards per game, second to his previous backup O’Shaan Allison, who is now averaging just under 60 yards per contest. The Bobcats are clearly more willing to air it out in 2021, jumping from 54 passing attempts in last year’s three games to 80 currently, and additionally, quarterbacks Kurtis Rourke and Armani Rodgers have completed 50 of those attempts, making for a more balanced offensive attack this year.
Their run defense is ... not great
Compared to their opponents since the beginning of the season, the Bobcats have been nearly doubled in their yardage gained on the ground, allowing 757 yards total in their three matchups, dwarfing their own 385-yard output. The Bobcats’ leading tackler from last year, Jamison Collier, has been relegated to a measly ten total tackles, and though leading tacklers Bryce Houston and Alvin Floyd have been attempting to pick up the slack with a total of 51 tackles between the two, Ohio will have some holes to fill up before heading to Evanston on Saturday.
Northwestern will take on Ohio at Ryan Field on Saturday at 11 a.m. CST, and the game will be televised on BTN.