1. The man. Senior Tyler Tettleton, son of former major league baseball player Mickey Tettleton, is a three-year starter and the only Ohio U. quarterback to surpass 8,000 yards in career passing. He gets rid of it quickly, he’s accurate (72.6 percent the last three games), and he’s receiving superior protection. Tettleton has a pair of big-play receivers in Donte Foster and Chase Cochran, who have combined for 34 catches, 643 yards and six TDs in the last three games alone. Foster owns the school record with 20 career TD receptions. Cochran has 10 catches of 40 yards or more in 24 career games. If it sounds ominous on the Buffalo end consider that Tettleton never has had a big game against the Bulls. Two years ago, he threw for 203 yards in a 38-37 UB victory. Last season he was 14 of 26 for 183 in Ohio’s 38-31 victory.
2. Strength vs. strength. These two teams rank among the national leaders in protecting the quarterback and in getting to the quarterback. Something has to give. Ohio is No. 2 in the nation in sacks with 28 and has produced 20 over the last six games. DL Tarell Basham leads the team with six and he’s only a freshman. Ty Branz has 5.5. And if Ohio’s rushers force the issue, the secondary will pounce. Xavier Hughes has three of Ohio’s nine picks. But can the Bobcats penetrate a UB line that has yielded just seven sacks? The same goes on the flip side. Ohio has allowed just six sacks. UB ranks 11th nationally with 25. The Bulls are eighth nationally with 13 INTs. DBs Najja Johnson and Cortney Lester and LB Khalil Mack have three picks apiece.
3. Equal opportunity. Remember when the UB pass attack began and ended with senior WR Alex Neutz? One of the stats that speaks to the maturity of sophomore QB Joe Licata concerns the developing balance in the pass offense. Fred Lee has just four fewer catches than Neutz’s team-leading 39. Tight ends Mason Schreck, Matt Weiser and Jimmy Gordon have combined for 20 receptions. Devin Campbell and Bo Oliver have caught 23 balls out of the backfield (or with Campbell sometimes in the slot). Licata completed 6 of 10 third-down throws last week and not a one of the 10 was targeted for Neutz. It’s been a long time since UB brought that kind of pass-attack diversity into a game against Ohio.
4. The run around. How did Central Michigan knock off the Bobcats at Ohio on Oct. 12? It certainly helped that freshman QB Cooper Rush went 20 for 28 for 224 yards and three TDs. But the numbers that stood out were the rushing yards. CMU went for 208 and controlled the clock almost 36 minutes. Ohio managed just 107. With Oliver looking better than ever, doubtless UB would like to impose its will in similar fashion. Oliver has gone for at least 128 yards in every MAC game and is averaging 166. On the other side, Ohio got a big game out of Beau Blankenship in last week’s rout of Miami but the yards have come much tougher than they did for him last season.
5. Extra points. Final game at UB Stadium for senior class. … UB second in the nation in turnover ratio. … Ohio leads the series, 12-7. … Ohio is bowl-eligible for the fifth straight season. … Travis Carrie is 76 yards from becoming Ohio’s all-time leader in punt returns. … UB has scored 32 or more points in five straight games. The Bobcats have scored 40 or more in two straight games.
Outlook: Run game tilts balance UB’s way. Bulls, 34-28.