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Ohio wide receiver Riley Dunlop grips the ball tight midtackle during the game against Buffalo. The Bobcats lost to the Bulls 38-37. (MADDIE MEYER | Staff Photographer)

Football: Ohio taking trip down bad-memory lane

Central Michigan plays its home games in Mt. Pleasant, but Ohio’s past trips to the scenic city have been more akin of ascending Mount Doom.

The Bobcats have a worse record against the Chippewas than against any other Mid-American Conference opponent. Ohio (6-3, 3-2 MAC) has won only four of 27 career meetings and has a 1-9-1 record when playing on Central Michigan’s home turf.

The three most recent meetings were especially big blows for the Bobcats. The Chippewas beat the Bobcats in the 2006 and 2009 MAC championship games and spoiled the 2008 home opener at Peden Stadium.

Arming those squads was dynamic quarterback Dan LeFevour, who holds the NCAA record for career total touchdowns. He threw for 102 touchdowns, rushed for 47, and caught one during his tenure at Central Michigan.

“They have a history of being able to throw the ball and throw it well,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said.

The Chippewas (3-7, 2-4 MAC) still have a strong aerial assault in the arm of junior quarterback Ryan Radcliff, who is second in the MAC in touchdown passes and third in yards and completions. Central Michigan’s passing offense is ranked 28th among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Solich said detering the throwing game begins with neutralizing other aspects of a team’s attack.

So far, Central Michigan’s rushing game has been an asset to the passing attack but not an equal threat. The Chippewas average 121 rushing yards per game compared to 270 passing yards.

Central Michigan is a young squad this year, with only three seniors starting on offense or defense.

“Certainly building for the future, but they’re not looking at it down the road because they’ve got their guys playing well right now,” Solich said. “A lot of young talent that I think just keeps getting better game by game.”

Unpleasant Memories

Some of the more experienced Bobcats faced the Chippewas at Ford Field during the 2009 conference championship game, which Ohio lost 20-10.

Redshirt senior linebacker Noah Keller broke the title game record then with 16 tackles.

“They’ve definitely been a really good team. They’ve probably been the most successful (MAC) team in the last 10 years,” Keller said.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton played in that game as a true freshman. He did not complete any of his three passing attempts, was sacked once and lost a yard on two rushing attempts.

This time around, a trip to the MAC Championship game is at stake, and Ohio looks to beat Central Michigan for the first time since 2001.

“I really wasn’t expecting to come in that game, but now it’s a lot different,” Tettleton said. “There’s still a lot at stake. We still have to win out to get to Detroit.”

No Huynh Yet

Nose guard Neal Huynh will not play against the Chippewas. He injured his right leg early in the game against Kent State Oct. 1 and has not suited up since.

“He’s still not ready to start practice yet,” Solich said. “It will be a little bit of time yet before he’s able to get out there and start to contribute again.”

Huynh had been the team’s leading tackler until his injury and helped set the tone for a Bobcat defense that has not been kind to opposing running attacks.

“With it being a leg injury, it’s hard for me to do the cardio work I’ve been wanting to do,” Huynh said.

He said it would be hard to get back to 100 percent this season but hopes to get back on the field by the end of the season, especially if Ohio plays in the MAC championship or a bowl game.

“It’s been hard watching,” Huynh said. “I can’t do anything about it, it happens so I just have to encourage the team myself.”


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