By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcats.com Feature Writer
ATHENS, Ohio -- When Jake Pruehs walked into the postgame press conference last week, he went to look directly at the stats from the game. His initial reaction was a cheer for the amount of rushing yards the Bobcats had collected against Toledo.
"We did what we said we were going to do," Pruehs said. "They were saying 'We'll see you in a few weeks. Who cares? We just ran for 400 yards, almost anyway."
Pruehs, a redshirt senior center, plays the physical game of football. He takes pleasure in running the ball right up the middle of the opponent's defense, just the way head coach Frank Solich wants it done. Last week, Pruehs led an offensive line which allowed the Bobcats to run the ball 19 times in the third quarter.
But this week, after proving that they're the team to beat in the Mid-American Conference, Ohio will have to beat Akron on Tuesday night to get to the MAC Championship for the second straight year.
Pruehs was around a year ago when the Bobcats lost to Western Michigan in Detroit. And all spring, summer and fall, the team has been echoing how much they've wanted to return. But it's one thing for a team to say something, it's another for a team to execute what they say.
So now, on the cusp of of returning to Ford Field, it's a bitt surreal for Pruehs.
"Obviously, we're playing for a MAC East championship," he said. "We did it last year. Our goal is to obviously win and get back to the MAC Championship. I don't think Akron can be a factor in that."
Ohio will have to focus on the game Tuesday night, not that possibilities of what happens after the win, Pruehs said. The Bobcats will be challenged early as Akron hasn't named a starting quarterback, which will be a game time decision.
The offensive line will be faced with not knowing the front the Zips will play, as they've been known to change their defensive scheme week by week. Pruehs said the most difficult part of the game will be the first series, communication will be key up front. He's not worried about the line—as he's said in the past—because they take pride in wearing down opponents front seven.
Solich believes that the entirety of the potent offense that Ohio has developed this season is centered around the offensive line.
"It may play the biggest role of all, because unless you're Superman you're probably not going to get much done if the offensive line isn't taking care of business upfront," he said. "We have really good backs. We have a good combination in terms of our offensive line, our running backs, and our quarterbacks."
Pruehs enjoys the accolades, but come game time, he'll turn of the hubris. Because call it whatever you want, Wednesday night is the MAC East championship game.
"I just want to get back, man," Pruehs said.