It’s a chance for improvement for two struggling programs when the Northwestern Wildcats host the visiting Ohio Bobcats on Saturday in Evanston, Ill.
The Wildcats (1-2) opened the season with a lopsided loss to Big Ten-rival Michigan State and still have plenty to fix before heading back into the rest of the nine-game conference slate. Northwestern has been weak offensively, ranking 104th nationally with 22.7 points per game, and now appears to be undergoing a switch at quarterback.
Starter Hunter Johnson was benched during the Wildcats’ 30-23 loss at Duke on Saturday after four first-half turnovers. Northwestern trailed 27-0 at the time. His replacement, Andrew Marty, led three scoring drives but was knocked out of the game late with an unspecified injury. The third quarterback, Ryan Hilinski, failed to move Northwestern.
If that wasn’t bad enough, coach Pat Fitzgerald also needs to solve his team’s turnover problem while also picking which quarterback gets the starting honors. Northwestern has seven lost turnovers in three games.
“We’ve got to play cleaner football,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a point of emphasis. We can’t keep doing this stuff.”
The Wildcats will get no sympathy from Ohio, which has been awful in the three games under new head coach Tim Albin. Albin, who was elevated to the role after the sudden retirement of 16-year head coach Frank Solich in July, has a team that has done very little right so far.
Ohio ranks 120th (out of 130 teams) in scoring offense with just 16.3 points per game, and is tied for 114th nationally in scoring defense (35.3 ppg allowed). The Bobcats have been blown out by Syracuse (29-9) and Louisiana (49-14). Between those games, Ohio was stunned at home by an FCS team in a 28-26 loss to Duquesne.
“We’re looking at everything,” Albin said. “Personnel changes, making things simpler. Tackling better is going to help.”
Neither team has tackled well in the early going, and whoever can show progress there will have an upper hand.
Ohio is allowing 5.51 yards per carry and 253.7 rushing yards per game (124th nationally). The Wildcats are only marginally better, giving up 189.3 rushing yards per game and 5.07 per carry (106th).
–Field Level Media
Sean Tucker rushed for a career-high 181 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to power visiting Syracuse in a 29-9 win over Ohio in a nonconference matchup on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio.
Syracuse (1-0) won for the seventh time in its last eight season openers and claimed its eighth straight victory against the Mid-American Conference. Quarterback Tommy DeVito completed 11 of 17 passes for just 92 yards, but he added 49 rushing yards and a score on the ground.
Ohio (0-1) lost the head coaching debut for Tim Albin, the program’s long-time offensive coordinator who was elevated to the head role in July following the retirement of Frank Solich. Kurtis Rourke hit on 21 of 28 passes for 142 yards with an interception and even caught a 38-yard pass for the Bobcats, who managed just nine points on three trips into the red zone on the night.
Jerome Buckner hauled in seven catches for 102 yards, De’Montre Tuggle added 65 yards rushing, and Stephen Johnson kicked three short field goals of 22, 30 and 25 yards for Ohio.
Syracuse pulled away with a pair of third-quarter scores to take a 22-6 lead into the final frame. Andre Szmyt kicked a 20-yard field goal, and then Tucker found paydirt on a 6-yard touchdown run for the 16-point lead with 40 seconds left in the quarter.
Ohio pulled to within 22-9 with 11:21 left on Johnson’s third field goal, but Syracuse answered with Cooper Lutz’ 11-yard touchdown run with 5:15 left for the 29-9 final score.
Orange receiver Taj Harris had six catches for 29 yards and broke his tie with Marvin Harrison for sixth place on the Syracuse career receptions list. Syracuse finished with 280 rushing yards on 44 carries, and averaged 6.4 per attempt.
Ohio out gained Syracuse 171-139 in the first half and had a better than a seven-minute edge in time of possession … but trailed 12-6 at the break.
The Bobcats’ first drive took 12 plays and eight minutes off the clock but ended with a missed 50-yard field goal. Syracuse took the lead just five plays later when DeVito kept the ball on a read for a 6-yard touchdown run.
On the following kickoff, returner Tuggle muffed the return and was tackled on his own 1-yard line. Ohio’s next play was a dive to Tuggle, and he was swarmed under for a safety, and Syracuse led 9-0 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.
The Bobcats got on the board with 13:33 left in the half on Johnson’s 22-yard field goal. Syracuse answered with Szmyt hitting from 29 yards, and Ohio closed the half with Johnson’s 30-yard field goal with just 19 seconds remaining.
–Field Level Media
Frank Solich retired after 16 seasons as head coach at Ohio to focus on his health.
The 76-year-old previously coached at Nebraska, where he replaced Tom Osborne in 1998 and posted a 58-19 record with the Cornhuskers.
Ohio had two winning seasons in 22 years prior to Solich’s arrival. He led the program to 11 bowl games.
Associate head coach and offensive coordinator Tim Albin was named Ohio head coach, agreeing to a four-year contract on Wednesday, the Bobcats announced.
“After fifty-five years in coaching, including 16 at Ohio University, it is time for me to step away to focus on a cardiovascular health issue,” said Solich, the MAC Coach of the Year in 2006. “I’ve appreciated the support of Bobcat fans over the years, and I know they will continue to support Coach Albin. After working directly with Tim for 21 consecutive years, including six at the University of Nebraska, it’s clear to me he is prepared to continue our work and move the program forward. I am happy for Tim and his family.”
Solich has a career record of 173-101, which includes his previous time at Nebraska, where he hired Albin as a graduate assistant in 2000. He was previously head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State for three seasons, including a 13-0 season in 1999 as NAIA national champions.
“It is truly an honor to lead the Ohio University football program and I want to express my gratitude to President Sherman and Director of Athletics Julie Cromer for their belief in me,” Albin said. “I am forever indebted to Coach Solich for all that he has offered me and taught me through the years, and I know he will always be part of our program. Our team will provide an unmatched student-athlete experience both on and off the field and we will graduate young men prepared to succeed in life. With the help of our incredible staff I know great things lie ahead, and our work continues.”
–Field Level Media
Saturday’s game between the University of Buffalo and host Ohio University was canceled on Friday due to COVID-19 issues in the Ohio program.
The cancellation allowed Buffalo to clinch the Mid-American Conference East Division title and a spot in the conference title game.
The Bulls reportedly learned they were division champions about 2 1/2 hours into the approximately 390-mile bus ride from Buffalo to Athens, Ohio. The Bulls reportedly stopped at a rest stop in Mentor, Ohio — located just east of Cleveland — and turned the bus around on Interstate 90 to head back to Buffalo after learning of the cancelation.
The MAC released a statement that said, “The University at Buffalo at Ohio University football game on Saturday, December 5 has been canceled due to roster issues with the Ohio football team related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing. The game has been declared a no-contest.”
Buffalo (4-0, 4-0 MAC) would have preferred to clinch the spot in the Dec. 18 title game at Detroit on the field.
“While we are disappointed our game at Ohio has been canceled, the health and safety of our student-athletes continues to be our top priority,” Bulls coach Lance Leipold said in a statement. “I’m extremely proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. They have done everything the right way during these difficult times. In fact, we didn’t have a single positive case this week. We were looking forward to playing Ohio, but we will now shift our attention to our next opponent, Akron.”
The Bulls are scheduled to host Akron on Dec. 12. The Bobcats (2-1, 2-1) visit Kent State on the same day.
Buffalo is led by star running back Jaret Patterson, who rushed for 409 and eight touchdowns in last week’s 70-41 win over Kent State. The yardage was second-most all-time behind Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, who had 427 against Kansas in 2014.
–Field Level Media
The post Get a Grip: The Week in Sports Betting and Sports: PA Launch Has Arrived appeared first on SportsHandle.
It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad).
Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.
12 Billion Reasons There Is So Much Hype Around Pennsylvania Sports Betting; Launch Pad Readies at Hollywood Penn
The Hollywood Casino in Pennsylvania will make history on Saturday when it fully opens the first legal sportsbook in PA to the public. More than a year after legalizing sports betting, Pennsylvanians will finally be able to legally place a bet — and the state will begin to reap expected financial gains from sports betting. They already have, actually, in the form of $10 million application fee apiece from the six properties so far to apply for a sports wagering license.
Of the eight states that have legalized sports betting, Pennsylvania is the only that that has just about two of everything — NFL teams, MLB teams and NHL teams. The only pro sport with only one Pennsylvania franchise is the NBA.
The post Key Sports Betting Lawmakers: Who Survived the Election, and Who’s Out appeared first on SportsHandle.
Besides the 36 gubernatorial races decided on Tuesday, the Nov. 6 elections will have an impact on the future of sports betting in some states. Several key lawmakers in states actively considering legalizing sports betting lost their seats or were term-limited out, while others retained their posts and may see their influence elevate.
In Indiana, two key legislators, Ben Smaltz, whose Public Policy Committee held an intensive hearing on sports betting last month, hasn’t filed legislation, but could be a key drive. So could Ron Alting, Smaltz’s Senate counterpart. Both held off Democratic challengers to retain their seats.
In Kentucky, Adam Koenig, who retained his seat with 55 percent of the vote, hasn’t filed a bill yet, but hosted a comprehensive hearinghttps://sportshandle.com/ky-lawmakers-closing-in-on-sports-betting-bill-to-pass-in-19-hone-in-on-final-key-issues/ in October and appears to have taken the point on sports betting in the Bluegrass State. And in Massachusetts, chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Joe Wagner, who ran unopposed, is carrying the torch.