ATHENS, Ohio - The conquering heroes return home today.
Fresh off last Saturday's nationally-televised 24-14 win at Penn State, the Ohio Bobcats will make their home debut as New Mexico State invades Peden Stadium for a 7 p.m. contest that will be available on ESPN3.
Following last week's win, Ohio -the preseason favorite to win the Mid American Conference title -earned mention in both national football polls. The Bobcats have won seven of their last eight games dating back to last season, including the first bowl win in school history, a victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
This marks the second meeting between the Bobcats and the Aggies, who met last year at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, N.M. Ohio not only won that game, 44-24, but the Bobcats led by as many as 34 in that contest, which saw Ohio roll up 452 yards total offense while holding New Mexico State to just six rushing yards.
Both teams come in to tonight's game with 1-0 marks as New Mexico State opened its season last Saturday with a convincing 49-19 win over Sacramento State. That makes New Mexico State -at least temporarily -the highest scoring team in the Western Athletic Conference. Leading the way for NMSU was sophomore wide receiver Austin Franklin, who accounted for 236 receiving yards and earned WAC Player of the Week. He was on the receiving end of passes from quarterback Andrew Manley, who threw for 367 yards and three scores.
Meanwhile, Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton, a candidate for the O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback, completed 31 of 41 passes against Penn State, accounting for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Allen Robinson caught nine of those passes for 97 yards while Bill Belton and Matt Lehman latched onto TD aerials. Beau Blankenship led Ohio's rushing attack with 109 yards, a career high. Tettleton needs nine touchdown passes to become Ohio's all-time leader in that category.
The Bobcats -in addition to establishing more of a running game -also will be working on special teams as normally reliable placekicker Matt Weller misfired on two of three field goals last week. Inside linebacker Keith Moore led Ohio's defense with seven solo tackles.
Plenty of tickets are available for the game.