Ohio-Miami (Ohio) Preview

The Associated Press

Ohio's unbeaten record has helped it become recognized nationally, even earning a recent endorsement from the President of the United States.

Off to their best start in 44 years, the No. 23 Bobcats seek their seventh straight victory over Mid-American Conference rival Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

A surprising 24-14 win at Penn State to open the season Sept. 1 gave Ohio a marquee victory, its first over a major-conference school since beating Illinois in 2006.

The Bobcats are 7-0 for the first time since 1968 and have earned their first-ever appearance in the BCS standings at No. 24. They beat Akron 34-28 on Oct. 13 to improve to 3-0 in the MAC.

"I think it is great for the program. It gives us national recognition, which is always good for you," coach Frank Solich said of the team's ranking. "It is good for the attitude of the players in our program right now.

"I think the only drawback is that it paints a bigger target on your back, but that's something we are glad to accept. You want that. We just need to learn on how to respond to that."

That national recognition was taken a step further on Oct. 17 when President Obama made a stop in Athens on his campaign trail.

"I came here today because I heard you've got a pretty fun football team to watch," Obama said, eliciting cheers from the crowd. "Undefeated if I'm not mistaken. A shot at the MAC championship. Maybe a BCS bid.

"It is outstanding the Bobcats are doing so well, so I just want to wish you guys luck."

Solich and the Bobcats know they have a long way to go, though, after allowing 14 fourth-quarter points in what turned out to be a tight game with one-win Akron. Tyler Tettleton threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns while Beau Blankenship (108 yards) and Ryan Boykin (96 yards, TD) led the ground attack for the Bobcats, who have made a habit of playing close contests.

Ohio beat Marshall by three on Sept. 15, UMass by three on Sept. 29 and Buffalo by seven on Oct. 6.

"We emphasized getting off to a fast start, but we can't be conservative and let our foot off the gas," Tettleton said.

The Bobcats shouldn't have much trouble keeping a lead against a Miami team that has been blown out in its last two games. The RedHawks (3-4, 2-1) fell 52-14 in Cincinnati on Oct. 6 and 37-12 at Bowling Green on Oct. 13.

Zac Dysert finished 17 for 31 for 198 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against the Falcons after attempting 49 passes in his two previous games. Solich is aware of Miami's propensity to throw the ball, but he said stopping the run is always his top priority.

The RedHawks were held to three yards rushing against Bowling Green and rank last in the MAC - 119th in the FBS - averaging 89.3 yards per game on the ground.

"It has always been a very physical football game whenever we play Miami. They have good personnel and they love to throw the ball and we'll definitely have to stop that," Solich said. "The approach of stopping the run first will be the approach we'll take for the remainder of the year, regardless of who we face. We want to try and slow the running game down and try to limit explosive plays in the passing game."

Dysert went 35 for 53 for 372 yards and a touchdown on Nov. 22 against Ohio, but Tettleton's three TD passes and 111 yards rushing helped the Bobcats run their series streak to six with a 21-14 win.

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