COLUMBUS, Ohio – Riding its highest national ranking since week two in 2015, Ohio Dominican's football team puts its nine-game winning streak to the test at 7 p.m. Saturday in its G-MAC opener against Hillsdale in Panther Stadium.
On the strength of the second-longest winning streak in the nation, the Panthers climbed to No. 12 in the AFCA Top 25 poll this week, while also surging to No. 18 in the D2Football.com poll. It's the highest the Panthers have been ranked by the coaches since Sept. 7, 2015 (No. 7) and the Panthers are now the lone Division II team in Ohio to be nationally ranked.
The win streak is the third-longest in school history, trailing a pair of 15 game win streaks (2006-07 and 2012-13). During that stretch, which started with a 51-0 win over Lake Erie in week four of the 2017 season, ODU has outscored its opponents 368-135, an average of 25.8 points per game.
The Panthers endured a pair of tough non-conference games to start the season, against a California (Pa.) team that was receiving votes in the preseason poll and coming off consecutive playoff appearances, and against an Ashland team that won the GLIAC last year and was ranked No. 18 in the nation.
ODU defeated Cal 28-23, stopping the Vulcans on downs at the ODU 15 yard line in the final minute, then took a 24-17 against the Eagles after stopping Ashland in the red zone in the last minute as well. The Panthers won despite gaining just 202 yards in sloppy weather conditions, the fewest yards in a win in program history.
ODU is seeking the 50th home win in the program's 15-year history. The Panthers are also closing in on their 100th all-time victory, entering this week with a 98-55 all-time record (.641).
The defense has been stingy in the first two weeks, despite being on the field for 163 plays and almost 78 minutes. The Panthers are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry and have forced four turnovers, while also allowing just four touchdowns in eight red-zone trips for its opponents.
The defense has allowed just two scores after the first quarter as well as ODU outscored Cal and Ashland 42-13 after the opening stanza.
Part of the byproduct of the defense's time on the field is ODU's propensity for big plays on offense. Six of the Panthers' eight scoring drives have taken less than two minutes, and three drives have taken four or fewer plays.