After a hot start to the season gave way to some substantial struggles, the Ohio Bobcats hope to get back on track for a matchup against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in the 2012 Independence Bowl on Friday. Ohio has lost four of its past five games after beginning the season 7-0.
Unfortunately for Ohio, the vast majority of experts making predictions for Friday's game aren't feeling too hot about the Bobcats' chances. While the Warhawks and Bobcats have identical 8-4 records this season, Louisiana-Monroe isn't suffering from a long line of injuries like Ohio currently is.
Over at NBC Sports, John Tamanaha sees the Warhawks ending their season just like they began it: with an impressive victory over a quality opponent. Louisiana-Monroe opened its season by upsetting then-No. 8 Arkansas in September, and Tamanaha sees a 32-26 win over Ohio this week.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach offers a somewhat similar prediction, picking Louisiana-Monroe for a 24-20 victory in its first bowl game appearance ever. Both Schlabach and Tamanaha praised Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning, who passed for 2,830 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.
The folks over at CBS Sports aren't in complete agreement about Louisiana-Monroe being the favorite, but six of the seven writers polled there see the Bobcats losing the game. Only Tom Fornelli sees Ohio actually winning the game, though Chip Patterson thinks the Bobcats can at least cover the spread.