Stoic Frank Solich is very stoic. (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)
That's right boys and girls, the Penn State blogosphere's most popular Summer series is back! For those of you just getting acquainted with Inside The Bloggers Unwashed, Unshaven, Studio (or ITBUUS as I'll refer to it from here on out) the premise is rather simple: I send out a Q&A to a blogger representing each of Penn State's opponents for the upcoming football season (in order of appearance on the schedule) and they respond back with their own answers.
And what better way to kick off the 2012 ITBUUS series than with a little MACtion courtesy of Matt Sussman, writer and manager for Hustle Belt, SBN's official MAC blog. Matt was kind enough to answer some Ohio University-related questions for us. How are Ohio U fans feeling about their upset hopes? Which talk show host analogy does he use to best describe the Frank Solich era to his predecessor's? What's the first thing that comes to mind when Matt sees/hears the words 'Ohio State?' Read on, to find out...
So, Ohio gets the dubious distinction of being Penn State's first opponent of the post-JoePa era (as well as the first opponent of Bill O'Brien's head coaching career). How are Bobcats fans feeling about their team's shot at an upset now as opposed to if the old regime were still in charge?
Any game at a Big Ten stadium is entered with cautious optimism, especially if it's the first game of the season? Oh jeez, EVERYTHING has to go right (see: the 2000 Toledo Rockets).
Toledo had the same optimism with Ohio State last year: The MAC team was primed to be a conference favorite, the opposition was down, in transition from a great coach and embroiled in distractions. Same goes with OHIO-Penn State, but with the caveat that I have never played football and am not part of Penn State ... I have to imagine that once the team actually plays the game, that's all that's on their mind. The rest of the white noise only gives Bobcats fans hope.
With eight returning starters on defense as well as their QB, Tyler Tettleton coming back from last year off a historic first-ever bowl victory, is it safe to say that fan expectations are the highest in program history? Do you see the Bobcats living up to such expectations?
I don't know how to rate "expectations" back in 1968, when they went undefeated in the regular season. But this season is up there. 1968 was their last MAC championship, and this is important to keep in mind, because that's a long freakin' time.
However they're getting ghosts out of the way, brick by brick. They won their first bowl game last year. They haven't beaten a power conference team in a while, and they'd like to see that but it's never "expected." The last frontier is a MAC title, and they've made the title game three times in the last seven years under Frank Solich.
They feel like they have Solich until he retires, and this seems accurate to me. It may not be this year but the fans are realistically expecting a championship by 2013. The problem is that with so much parity, and 13 teams in play, it's hard to guarantee anything. But they should win eight games with their schedule.
For our readers who don't get enough MACtion in their college football diet (which studies have proven keeps you more 'regular'), explain to them what type of system Ohio runs offensively and defensively.
I've seen it referred to as the Frank-enstein offense. Don't think I'm going to get a better name for that. They do all sorts of things. They'll operate out of pistol, shotgun, under center, Wildcat ... just everything. Before Frank-enstein entered my lexicon I just called their offense "irritating." A single man doesn't beat you. It's just everyone. Additionally they are susceptible to a mob carrying torches. Again, accurate name!
Their defense is 4-3 and like you said, they return eight starters. They had 80 tackles for loss and only 13 1/2 of those were by outgoing seniors. Same with interceptions: 15 overall, only one by a senior. So, again, much like a Solichian team, nobody on the defense stands out as a shining beacon of grit and tackles. Everybody's pretty cool.
Use a proper pop culture analogy to describe the contrast between Ohio University football pre-Frank Solich to Ohio U seven years into the Solich era.
Brian Knorr is Craig Kilborn. Frank Solich is Jon Ste- well, OHIO hasn't reached "The Daily Show" levels of popularity, but they've gone from sympathetic figures to actually decent when you look at them. Frank Solich is Craig Ferguson. (And the MAC West may very well be decided by a game of Yambo.)
Since I am one of the 50 Penn State basketball fans on the planet, here's an obligatory basketball question: How clutch was making the Sweet 16 for the program? Will John Groce's successor, Jim Christian, be able to keep the wheels on and make Ohio a consistent contender in the MAC?
Important to remember about the Bobcats: They had no seniors on the Sweet 16 team, and other than their 10th man transferring, everyone's back. Jim Christian comes from TCU with a track record of winning at Kent State, and it's a bit weird for a former Golden Flash coach to be manning the Bobcats, yet here we are. Other than overcoming weirdness they're probably the nation's favorite to waltz through the MAC again. Now, someone will probably contend because you can never bank on 22-year-olds for consistency but they're the ones to beat right now, in June.
WORD ASSOCIATION (I'm going to list several words and for each word, write down the first thing that comes to mind)
Solich - A Nebraska cornfield crop circle shaped like a middle finger
MACtion - 129 combined points in regulation
Ohio State - Financially stable bullies
Pitt - Kid Icarus [Tim's Note: Who could've imagined that Pitt would invoke one to mention the title of an original Nintendo game?]
Temple - Sorry, I am not familiar with this word
UMass - A new sack of marbles
Success - Not losing to Akron
Tradition - MAC coaches going to the Big Ten
And Finally...Give us your prediction on how the game will play out.
Nittany Lions 27, Bobcats 10, only because the OHIO offense is featuring new playmakers and it will take a month or so until they're comfortable. I don't see a lot of points either way. The TV guys will mention Tyler Tettleton's father, former MLB catcher Mickey Tettleton at least three times during the broadcast, and he might even be there.
We thank Matt for his participation, be sure to check out his fine work at Hustle Belt to satisfy all your MACtion cravings.
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