The game was supposed to be offense galore, the top two offenses in the Mid-American Conference, dueling on ESPN2 in primetime.
The Bobcats' defense didn’t want the game to turn into a shootout.
Ohio held Toledo, the No. 2 offense in the MAC, to a season-low for points. The Bobcats defeated the Rockets 38-10 at Peden Stadium for a fourth straight win. The win also gives Ohio a one-game lead for first in the MAC East over Akron.
Wednesday’s game had MAC Championship Game implications, and maybe it still does — the Rockets are the top team in the MAC West. After the game finished, center Jake Pruehs said the Rockets were already mentioning the potential rematch.
"After the game they're all saying 'Oh, we'll see you in a few weeks,'" Pruehs said.
Trash talk aside, this was a statement win for the Bobcats: They're the best team in the MAC. And that’s because the defense played its best game of the season.
Even coach Frank Solich called it "surprising" that his team was able to hold the Rockets to 10 points.
"Going into this game, like everybody else I think felt that it was going to be somewhat of a high scoring game," Solich said. "And that you were going to have to put points on the board if you were going to be in the game."
The Bobcats couldn't score 25 points and expect to win the game. The Rockets were too good for that, with quarterback Logan Woodside leading the offense.
Ohio was tasked with defending Woodside, arguably the best quarterback in the MAC. They defended him as well as any team has this season. The Bobcats sacked him four times, including three from redshirt senior linebacker Quentin Poling.
The pressure didn't bother Woodside to the point where he committed turnovers. But he couldn't gain a rhythm, which allowed the Bobcats to stymie the Rockets' offense. Woodside had 263 passing yards, but they were empty yards. Most came off short passes, with Woodside's longest throw being 34 yards.
"They had very, very good, very fast wide receivers, so we're not going to sit up and press," Poling said. "We're going to play off and bail and make them throw those checkdowns."
Ohio left Toledo in a funk on offense, which only allowed the Bobcats to prosper on offense. Despite only having 10 points at halftime, the Bobcats outscored the Rockets 28-3 in the second half.
Most of those points came on the ground, particularly from redshirt senior running back Dorian Brown.
Brown thrived against the Rockets again — he rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown against them last season. On Wednesday, he rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Along with Brown, quarterback Nathan Rourke and running back A.J. Ouellette also rushed for a touchdown apiece. The Bobcats rushed for a season-high 393 rushing yards.
Though Ohio's offense was expected play well, Toledo's was, too. Heading into the game, linebacker Chad Moore said the Bobcats were looking to hold the Rockets to 20 points.
Exceeding that expectation says a good deal about Ohio's defense. The No. 7 ranked scoring defense in the MAC, the Bobcats held one of the best offenses in the conference to under 20 points.
That's surprising, but it's one of those good surprises. With only two games left in the regular season, the Bobcats are the best team in the MAC.
But they still have to play Akron and Buffalo.
Solich knows his team won't celebrate this win for long.
"They're not going to be bouncing around for three or four days," Solich said.