By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcats.com Feature Writer
ATHENS, Ohio -- Sitting in the postgame press conference Saturday, head coach Frank Solich claimed his football team hadn't even mentioned or thought about the possibility of bowl eligibility with a win over Kent State.
Maybe that just shows what Solich has been able to do in his 12 years at Ohio. Because when he came to Athens, the thought of making a bowl game seemed far fetched. Bowl game? That hadn't happened since 1968 when the Bobcats made the Tangerine Bowl.
Since his arrival in 2005, Solich has been able to change that culture. In the earlier years, such as 2007 and 2009, there had to be excitement about going to a bowl game. In 2011 when a bowl win finally happened, there was excitement.
But as the Bobcats let loose on Kent State in a 48-3 win at Peden Stadium, there was no sign that it wasn't different than any other Mid-American Conference game.
"There wasn't anybody that talked about becoming bowl eligible with this win," Solich said. "I think this is a great step for our program. We don't even consider that, and they're thinking about other things, which I think is great."
It was a quintessential Solich win, too. Just how he would like to imagine a win on paper. The opposing team totaled just 166 yards of total offense, while his offense rushed for over 300 yards for the second straight week.
Running back A.J. Ouellette burst into the record books—he's now 10th all-time in career rushing at Ohio with 2,264.
"I had no idea what the career rushing yards records were," he said. "At the beginning of the season, the running backs looked at the season- and game- records; because we go game-by-game."
This Ohio offense is looking more dynamic than it has in recent memory, the ability for not only the running backs, but quarterback Nathan Rourke to take over the game. He is ranked third in the country in rushing touchdowns with 13, ahead of the Heisman hopeful Saquon Barkley (7) and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson (11).
The passing game keeps growing every game—against Kent State the Bobcats were able to get back speedster Papi White back. He had two receptions for 82 yards.
Now, the Bobcats will be faced with their toughest stretch of the season, but Solich believes that they'll be able to handle it. After a nine day "bye week" Ohio heads into a four-week stretch of games against Miami, Toledo, Akron and Buffalo. The last two will be road games, Buffalo coming the day after Thanksgiving.
Ohio's bowl eligible, but the end goal is to win the MAC. Its the one think lacking from Solich's resumé. It hasn't happened since1968 and with a win against Miami, the Bobcats would be in prime position to make it to Detroit.
For now, it's time to focus on the "Battle of the Bricks" and move on from Kent State.
"It's a big game, but every game is a big game from here on out," Rourke said. "We're just going to have to go in and take care of business, and approach it like we have every other game. Stays focused this week and get as much treatment as we can to become 100 percent and take full advantage of the days that we have off.
"We need to fix the mistakes that we had here, because even though the scoreboard may say 48-3, we can be better than that. And that's what we're really excited about moving forward."