DETROIT – The 2018 Ohio football team has been selected to win the Mid-American Conference East Division in the 2018 MAC Football Media Preseason Poll, the league announced on Tuesday (July 24) at its annual MAC Football Media Day. The poll was determined by members of the league's media members. The Bobcats were also selected to win the 2018 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game, which will be held at Ford Field on Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. ET and televised nationally on ESPN2.
In the East Division, Ohio was selected first with a league-best 140 total points. Following the Bobcats, the Buffalo Bulls finished second with 112 points, while Miami finished third with 95 points. Defending MAC East Champion Akron finished fourth with 74 points, followed by Bowling Green and Kent State.
In the West Division, Northern Illinois was selected first in the Division with 133 total points. Following the Huskies, defending West Champion Toledo finished second with 125 points, while Western Michigan was third with 87 points. Eastern Michigan ranked fourth with 67 points, followed by Central Michigan and Ball State.
Ohio head coach Frank Solich is in his 14th year in leading the Ohio football program and is the third-winningest coach in MAC history with 97 career victories. Solich and his Bobcats are searching for Ohio's first MAC football championship since 1968. The Bobcats offense will be paced by junior quarterback Nathan Rourke (Oakville, Ontario), who rushed for 21 touchdowns and 912 yards last season. Ohio will have offensive threats from redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette (Covington, Ohio), who added 1,006 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns on his own and redshirt senior playmaker Papi White (Seminole, Okla.), who finished with 631 yards receiving and three scores last year. Defensively, safeties Javon Hagan (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Kylan Nelson (Lexington, Ky.), along with redshirt senior cornerback Jalen Fox (Cincinnati, Ohio) and senior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) will lead the Ohio defense.
The Bobcats open the 2018 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 against Howard. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. inside Peden Stadium and can be seen on ESPN+. Click here for ticket information or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).
The complete poll follows:
Team (First Place Votes) - Points
MAC East Division
1. Ohio (21) - 140
2. Buffalo (1) - 112
3. Miami (2) - 95
4. Akron - 74
5. Bowling Green - 58
6. Kent State - 25
MAC West Division
1. Northern Illinois (15) - 133
2. Toledo (7) - 125
3. Western Michigan (1) - 87
4. Eastern Michigan - 67
5. Central Michigan (1) - 58
6. Ball State - 34
2018 MAC Championship Game Winner: Ohio (13); Toledo (5); Northern Illinois (4); Miami (1); Central Michigan (1)