ATHENS, Ohio -After never having won a bowl game in its football history, Ohio University has recorded back-to-back postseason wins in the 2011 Great Idaho Potato Bowl and the 2012 Independence Bowl.
This year, coach Frank Solich's Bobcats hope to play their own version of Tic-Tac-Toe and make it three in a row.
Along the way, they also would love to win that Mid American Conference championship that keeps eluding the Cats.
There isn't much Solich, who is beginning his ninth season as Ohio's head coach, hasn't accomplished. The two bowl wins have been historic. Five bowl appearances in eight years unprecedented. Three MAC Eastern Division titles impressive. But each time OU qualified for the MAC championship game, it came up short.
So the goal this year is obvious. A third-straight bowl victory preceded by a MAC championship.
While that sounds rather lofty, it might well be a disappointing season if that doesn't happen.
This team is loaded with talent. Start on offense, where OU has three stars who have led it to those back-to-back bowl wins. This is their encore performance, their last year in Athens and their final opportunity to impress NFL scouts.
Start with quarterback Tyler Tettleton, the son of former Major League Baseball standout Mickey Tettleton. A native of Norman, Okla., Tettleton became the starter in 2011, when he completed 265 of 413 passes for 3,306 yards and 28 touchdowns. Last year, it was more of the same, as he was successful on 228 of 367 attempts for 2,844 yards. Even more impressively, he threw 18 TD passes while being intercepted just four times.
His favorite target is also a senior from Oklahoma, wide receiver Donte Foster, who caught 59 passes for 659 yards and eight TDs last season.
The reason Ohio didn't throw as much last year wears No. 22. Running back Beau Blankenship, also a Norman product, had a breakout season, rushing for 1,604 yards and 15 touchdowns and catching 21 passes for 182 yards and another score.
Before you go thinking the cupboard is going to bare after that trio graduates, watch running back Daz'mond Patterson, a sophomore with blazing speed who is capable of going all the way any time he touches the ball.
The Bobcats challenge on offense is to develop a line that can give its skill players the time to display their massive talent. If that happens, the Peden Stadium scoreboard will light up like a Christmas tree.
OK, the offense should be awesome. What about the defense? Solid seems to be the best word to describe OU's prevent unit, especially give its veteran secondary. The Cats lost five of their front seven, returning just linebacker Keith Moore and end Nic Barber. Junior linebackers Tim Edmond and Brandon Atwell should join Moore to give Ohio a stout linebacking corps. OU's biggest defensive challenge will be to put some pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. In that regard, keep an eye on defensive end Tyler Branz, who could fill the bill.
Ohio must replace graduated reliable kicker Matt Weller, who had become a fixture in Athens. Keep an early eye on the kicking game. Matt Green and Josiah Yadani are the leading candidates to succeed Weller.
The punting game is in the capable hands of Warren Local graduate Grant Venham, who averaged 39.5 yards per punt last season, his freshman year. Venham already is getting looks from NFL scouts.
Speaking of last year, Ohio stunned the college football world with a nationally-televised win over Penn State. This year, the Bobcats hope lightning strikes again, as they will open at Louisville, a game that will be billed as a battle between Tettleton and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Heisman Trophy candidate being mentioned as the first pick in the NFL draft.
Other non-conference foes include North Texas, Marshall and Austin Peay, all at home. Marshall, which suffered a 3-point loss to Ohio last season in Huntington, will bring to town quarterback Rakeem Cato.
As far as the MAC is concerned, Ohio is a contender, along with Northern Illinois, Bowling Green and Kent State.