With a 3-0 start, Ohio is finally earning a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But one important letter is missing from that word: “W.”
The Bobcats will find themselves in an unusual state Saturday. That state is NewJersey, but the unusual part is the attention they have received so early in the season.
Ohio last started 3-0 in 1976. The team has not trailed at any point this season and has won its games by a combined score of 118-34.
The start makes no sense and perfect sense: on one hand, Ohio has the weakest strength of schedule of any of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools. On the other, the Bobcats have a new starting quarterback and an equally young secondary that have no business contributing the performances they have supplied thus far.
Tyler Tettleton has passed for seven touchdowns and run for three more. Ohio’s secondary has picked off eight passes so far, including four against nearby
But there is something inherently different about visiting a Bowl Championship Series school. High Point Solutions Stadium holds more than twice as many fans as Peden Stadium.
The Scarlet Knights are gearing up for another year of gritty Big East football, and they need wins against teams such as Ohio to qualify for a bowl game. The team dropped a close contest to North Carolina Sept. 10.
“This is a big game for them. It’s a big game for us as well,” redshirt senior wide receiver LaVon Brazill said. “I know they’re going to come out here and play because they lost last week.”
The Bobcats have not beaten a BCS team on the road since defeating Illinois in 2006. Ohio last beat a Big East opponent in 2005, when Dion Byrum returned an interception for a touchdown in overtime to sink Pittsburgh. But that was in front of a then-record Peden Stadium crowd.
On paper, the Rutgers game is more winnable than previous contests at Ohio State and Tennessee. The Scarlet Knights have struggled of late and were picked to finish last in the Big East. And this time, Ohio has the momentum that comes with three straight blowout wins.
“Some people around the country kind of have their eyes on us now,” Tettleton said. “Having this win would be huge to maybe get in the rankings and stuff, but we really don’t look at that. We just want to go out there and win this game.”
The team’s approach to this game is not that different. Coach Frank Solich emphasized a three-prong approach to prepare for any game.
“You don’t get a team ready by pep talks or pointing toward certain games,” he said. “You just go through a routine of getting ready to play physically, mentally and emotionally.
“We don’t try to identify preseason, certain games that we feel like we just have to line up and win. We’ve got to get ready. We’ve got to get psyched up for it.”
Editor's Note: This article has been updated from its original version to correct an inaccuracy. The orginal version said OU had not beat a BCS conference team since 2000.