Tuesday night, Buffalo maintained its lead in the MAC East with a wild shootout win over Miami. Two days later, one pursuer used a woodshedding to keep the Bulls in its sights.
After one quarter of play Thursday night in Kalamazoo, it was Ohio 21, Western Michigan 0; after two, it was 45-0. Needless to say, the Bobcats cruised the rest of the way and headed back to Athens with a 59-14 shellacking of the Broncos firmly stuffed into their back pockets.
Far and away the biggest stat in the game was turnovers as WMU committed a whopping six — four lost fumbles, two interceptions — to none for Ohio. The Bobcats turned those six turnovers into an impressive 31 points; add in the Broncos turning the ball over on downs — the Bobcats scored on the ensuing possession on a 44-yard drive — as well as a missed field goal, and the home team simply stood no chance on the scoreboard.
Quarterback Nathan Rourke led the way offensively, throwing three touchdown passes and accounting for another pair of scores on the ground. The Bobcats ran for 256 yards as a team, with six players rushing for at least 18 yards but none more than 71. They averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns as well.
Defensively, the Bobcats held the Broncos to 270 yards — 152 passing, 118 rushing. WMU managed just 2.95 yards per on its 40 carries.
In pushing its record to 6-3 overall on the year, the Bobcats are now bowl-eligible for the 10th straight season.
With the win, Ohio improved to 4-1 in conference play, one game behind division leader Buffalo (5-0). Provided Ohio gets past Miami next Wednesday and Buffalo avoids getting tripped up by Kent State the day before — or if both teams lose — it would keep the two East teams on a collision course for a Nov. 14 meeting that will likely decide the division’s representative in the conference championship game.
Conversely, last night’s loss was costly for WMU as it dropped them to 4-2 in the conference, a game and a half behind West leader Northern Illinois (5-0). NIU took care of business Thursday night, incidentally, with a 36-26 win over Akron.