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These are the good old days for Ohio U.

When Ohio administrators landed exiled former Nebraska football coach Frank Solich to coach the wobbling Bobcats in December 2004, they had something like this in mind.

Solich, separated from his beloved Cornhuskers in 2003 after three decades of service, has long since made his home in Athens where he has begun his eighth season. That makes him the fourth-longest serving coach in the program's history.

That wasn't necessarily expected. Nor were the following:

  • Solich is 52-40 at Ohio entering Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game at Marshall. The last OU coach 12 games above .500 was Bill Hess, who went 108-91-4 from 1958-77.
  • Speaking of the Hess era, 1968 was the last time the Bobcats won 10 games in a season - until last year, when the Bobcats went 10-4 and won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
  • Oh yeah, that was the Bobcats' first-ever bowl victory.
  • Oh, yeah, Part II: That haul to Boise was Ohio's third bowl game in a row, exactly half the school's all-time total.
  • The 2011 senior class compiled a 36-27 record, the best five-year run in school history.
  • And along the way, the Bobcats thrashed Marshall 44-7 last September.
  • "It was an amazing year, not only for me but this team, the whole program and the university," said quarterback Tyler Tettleton. "It was something special, great to be a part of and something we'll try to build on."

    As if that weren't enough, the Bobcats opened this season with a 24-14 win at Penn State. The circumstances were unusual, to put it mildly, but the Nittany Lions built a 14-3 halftime lead.

    Ohio then overwhelmed Penn State in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points. In the final three quarters, Ohio outgained Penn State 447-173, a previously unthinkable stat.

    It was Ohio's second Big Ten scalp under Solich, with Illinois the other victim in 2006. The Bobcats also upended Pittsburgh in 2005, in Solich's second game.

    And now, Ohio will try to win its first two road games for the first time since 1976, and beat Marshall in consecutive games for the first time in three decades. After Saturday, the Bobcats will try to win their first MAC title since 1968.

    Yes, these are the glory days of Ohio football, and the players don't want them to end.

    "Hopefully, we'll win 11 games, win the MAC championship and go to a bigger bowl," Tettleton said.

    Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazette.com.

     


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