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Ohio wide receiver Sieh Bangura (22) is tackled during the second half of the game against Kent St. at Dix Stadium on Oct. 1, 2022.

Football Column: After five games, Ohio is improved but still flawed

Ohio has now played five games, almost half of its schedule, and I am once again left with the same feeling I have had after each game this season: I have no idea what to make of this team.

Ohio lost 31-24 to Kent State in overtime and on the road Saturday, in a game that was not as close as the score suggests.

Kent State outgained Ohio 736-450 yards. It also had both the leading rusher and leading receiver in the Football Bowl Subdivision this week, in Marquez Cooper and Dante Cephas, respectively.

Despite all that, the Bobcats had multiple opportunities to win the game and probably should have.

The one thing that does seem certain is that Ohio’s defense is struggling. It’s ranked No. 128 in points per game allowed and dead last in yards per game allowed, but even that statement is more complicated than it sounds.

Against Fordham, Ohio’s defense got a stop on the first drive of the game. After that, it allowed Fordham to score eight times in nine drives and then ended the game with three straight stops.

Against Kent State, it was almost the exact opposite. Ohio’s defense allowed a touchdown on the first drive of the game, then held Kent State scoreless for eight of its next nine drives. However, Ohio allowed three touchdowns and a field goal attempt on Kent State’s final four drives.

Strangely enough, I think I had a better sense of this team after its first game of the season against Florida Atlantic than I do now. After Ohio’s Week 1 win, I thought it was going to be a team with a bad, but not terrible, defense and an offense that could keep it in most games.

I thought Ohio had a pretty good chance at making a bowl game, and, if a few games broke the right way, it could compete for a Mid-American Conference East title.

But then the Bobcats were blown out by a pair of Power 5 opponents, as expected, and those two games told me nothing about how good they actually were.

After the Fordham game, I felt more negative about the defense and much more positive about the offense. However, Fordham probably has a better offense than a decent number of FBS teams, so I thought Ohio’s defense could improve in MAC play.

But then in Week 5 when Ohio played a better team, its offense was worse and the defense, in terms of points allowed, was better.

Now, I would like to wait for a few more games before making any sweeping conclusions, but college football is a sport of small sample sizes. Therefore, I will simply say this: Ohio is a decent team.

The Bobcats have enough talent on offense to move the ball against any team in the MAC. Even though they were outgained by almost 300 yards Saturday, 450 offensive yards is by no means a terrible performance.

The defense is one of the worst in FBS but has shown the ability to come up with big-time stops. Florida Atlantic, Fordham and Kent State all had the final possession of regulation with the score within three points, and Ohio allowed zero points on those three drives.

While this weekend’s loss to Kent State likely means Ohio will not be able to compete for the division, I wouldn’t be surprised if most, if not all, of Ohio’s remaining games were decided by one score. I don’t think Ohio will be the team blowing anyone out, but I also don’t think it will be getting blown out in games.

That may not be very reassuring, but while Ohio is certainly not back to the level it consistently reached under former head coach Frank Solich, the one thing I can say for certain is that Ohio is better than last year, and there is something to be said for that.

@willocunningham

wc425318@ohio.edu

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