Ohio Game Notes (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (1-1) looks to get back in the win column on Saturday (Sept. 22) when it visits in-state foe Cincinnati (3-0). Kickoff is scheduled for noon EST at Nippert Stadium.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on ESPNU, with Mike Corey and Rene Ingoglia on the call. The game can also be heard on the Ohio IMG Sports Network. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 11th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio alum Rob Cornelius, who has been a part of the broadcasts for close to two decades, is back in the booth. The 12-station network has an over-the-air coverage area that hits three states. In addition, the broadcasts are available online through OhioBobcats.com and TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats.com. They are also free on the TuneIn app.
• Ohio is coming off of a 45-31 loss to Virginia last Saturday (Sept. 15) at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. The Bobcats battled back from a 35-7 second-quarter deficit to make it a 10-point game with just over nine minutes to play in the third quarter but could not quite complete the comeback. Virginia piled up 552 yards of total offense.
• The Bobcats opened the 2018 season with a 38-32 victory over Howard on Sept. 1 at Peden Stadium.
• Ohio is coming off of a 2017 campaign in which it went 9-4 overall and finished second in the Mid-American Conference East Division with a 5-3 mark in league play.
• The 2017 season saw Ohio earn bowl eligibility for the ninth-straight season and make its eighth bowl appearance during that span. The Bobcats ended the year on a high note, rolling to a 41-6 triumph over UAB in the Bahamas Bowl.
• Frank Solich is back on the Ohio sidelines as head coach for a 14th season. The Bobcats have gone 98-71 (.580) during Solich's tenure -- including 64-40 (.615) in MAC play. Two more victories will put Solich in the company of Don Peden (1924-46; 121 wins) and Bill Hess (1958-77; 108) as the only coaches in the history of the program to lead the Bobcats to at least 100 victories. Solich has guided Ohio to four MAC East Division titles (2006, '09, '11, '16) and three bowl victories in nine appearances.
• Ohio was tabbed MAC favorite in the league's preseason media poll, which was announced in late July. The Bobcats were picked first in the East Division with a league-best 140 total points. Ohio was 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. The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
HURRICANE FLORENCE FORCES GAME RELOCATION
Last Saturday's game between the Bobcats and Cavaliers was originally scheduled to played at Virginia's Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. The venue change was made due to the threat of severe weather in the Charlottesville area associated with Hurricane Florence and to provide emergency personnel with the ability to focus on the needs of the region's citizens throughout the weekend.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White (Seminole, Okla.) posted his third-straight game with at least 100 yards receiving, hauling in six catches for a team-high 131 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Virginia. The last Bobcat receiver to post three-straight games with over 100 receiving yards was Donte' Foster in 2013.
White enjoyed a career day in the win over Howard, racking up a career-high 154 receiving yards on a career-high eight receptions and hauling in a touchdown. He became the first Bobcat wide receiver to register 150-plus receiving yards since Sebastian Smith achieved the feat on Sept. 17, 2016 against then-No. 15-ranked Tennessee.
Through three weeks of the 2018 season, White ranks third in the NCAA with 142.5 receiving yards per game and ranks 17th in receptions per game with 7.0.
After a tough outing against Howard, junior quarterback Nathan Rourke (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) bounced back with a strong performance against Virginia. He finished 16-of-31 for 246 yards and two touchdown passes and added a team-high 72 rushing yards in the loss to the Cavaliers.
Redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) scored a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in Ohio's loss to Virginia. Irons scored his first touchdown since Nov. 3, 2016 against Buffalo with his one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. With his two rushing touchdowns, he recorded his second career multi-touchdown game and first since Oct. 8, 2016 against Bowling Green.
Through two games in 2018, Irons leads Ohio with 95 rushing yards.
Ohio's defense has produced seven takeaways and has a plus-five turnover margin through two games of the 2018 season.
Perhaps some of the credit for the takeaways can be attributed to the Ohio defense's new sideline prop: The Turnover Belt, which is a WWE-replica championship belt that is awarded to individuals who force the opposition to turn the ball over.
Redshirt defensive lineman Chukwudi Chukwu (Willingboro, N.J.) produced a strip sack of Virginia junior quarterback Bryce Perkins in the second quarter of Ohio's loss to the Cavaliers. The fumble was recovered by junior linebacker Eric Popp (Loveland, Ohio) at the Virginia 29 yard line.
The Bobcats forced four turnovers in the season-opening victory over Howard. On the first play from scrimmage of the new season, redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson (Lexington, Ky.) came up with the first big play of the year for the Ohio defense, forcing a fumble that redshirt senior cornerback Jalen Fox (Cincinnati, Ohio) recovered. In the second quarter, redshirt sophomore safety Jarren Hampton (Fostoria, Ohio) forced a fumble that sophomore cornerback Marlin Brooks (Miami, Fla.) recovered. Senior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) recorded his first career interception on Howard's first drive of the second half. Finally, with 18 seconds remaining in the contest, redshirt sophomore cornerback Ilyaas Motley (Centerville, Ohio) came up with his first career interception to seal the victory for Ohio.
Redshirt junior kicker/punter Michael Farkas (Mishawaka, Ind.) enjoyed another strong game in last Saturday's loss to Virginia. He recorded six punts for 282 yards. His longest punt of the day went for 59 yards in the first quarter, and he also produced a 52-yard punt in the first quarter and a 57-yard punt in the fourth quarter, helping him average 47 yards per punt. Three of his six punts ended up inside Virginia's 20 yard line. Farkas also kicked off four times, with all four going for touchbacks for a 65-yard average. He successfully executed an onside kick in the second quarter that was recovered by junior linebacker Eric Popp (Loveland, Ohio).
In the season-opening victory over Howard, Farkas set career highs with eight punts and 368 punting yards in the win. He currently ranks sixth in the NCAA with 46.4 yards per punt this season.
Farkas currently ranks seventh in program history in career punting yards with 5,911.
Through three weeks of the 2018 season, Ohio is one of the most disciplined teams in the country in terms of penalties. The Bobcats rank eighth in the country in fewest penalties (10) and seventh in fewest penalty yards (85).
A COACHING LEGEND
Entering his 20th season as the man in charge on the sidelines overall and 14th at Ohio, Solich has already cemented his legacy as legendary head coach. Among his achievements:
• Ranks third in MAC history in wins behind Herb Deromedi (110, Central Michigan, 1978-93) and Bill Hess (108, Ohio, 1958-77).
• Is tied for second in MAC history in conference-only wins with Hess, with both trailing Deromedi (90 wins).
• Is tied with Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy as the third-longest tenured head coach in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision behind Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (20th season) and TCU's Gary Patterson (19th).
• Has coached four All-America honorees at Ohio.
• The program has tallied 94 All-MAC selections during his tenure.
• Nine players have been selected in the NFL Draft under his watch.
Ohio and Cincinnati are set to square off for the 51st time but first since 1981. The all-time series is deadlocked at 23-23-4. The Bearcats walked out of Athens with a 19-9 win over the Bobcats in the last meeting between the two teams on Oct. 10, 1981. Ohio and Cincinnati met 13 times between 1968-81, with the Bobcats earning five wins. The Bobcats' last trip to Cincinnati saw Ohio come away with a 27-7 victory on Nov. 3, 1979.
Cincinnati kept its perfect start to the 2018 season intact by rolling to a 63-7 victory over Alabama A&M last Saturday. The Bearcats opened the year with a 26-17 win over UCLA, then beat the RedHawks of Miami, 21-0, at Paul Brown Stadium on Sept. 8.
Luke Fickell is in his second year as the head coach of the Bearcats. Cincinnati was picked to finish fourth in the American Athletic Conference East Division in the league's preseason media poll. The Bearcats went 4-8 in their first year under the direction of Fickell in 2017.
Cincinnati boasts a stout defense, ranking third in the country in total defense (228.7 yards per game), second in scoring defense (8.0 points per game allowed), 11th in passing yards allowed (145.0 per game) and 12th in rushing defense (83.7 yards per game). Sophomore safety James Wiggins leads the Bearcats with 14 total tackles (10 solo, four assisted) and has accounted for one of Cincinnati's two interceptions. Senior defensive lineman Cortez Broughton leads the Bearcats with 6.5 tackles for loss -- including a team-high 2.5 sacks.
Sophomore running back Michael Warren II leads Cincinnati's offense with 315 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns (second-most in the country) on 70 carries. Redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder is 28-of-45 for 344 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions through three games. Senior wide receiver Kahlil Lewis leads Cincinnati with 112 receiving yards while junior tight end Josiah Deguara leads the team with two receiving touchdowns.
QUEEN CITY CONNECTIONS
Five players on Ohio's roster list Cincinnati as their hometown -- redshirt junior wide receiver Elijah Ball, redshirt senior cornerback Cameron Gunnels (Cincinnati, Ohio), redshirt senior cornerback Jalen Fox (Cincinnati, Ohio), redshirt sophomore running back Ja'Vahri Portis and freshman tight end Mason Bernhardt.
Quarterbacks coach Scott Isphording is a native of Cincinnati. Cornerbacks coach De'Angelo Smith graduated from Cincinnati in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He was a three-year letterwinner at both cornerback and safety for the Bearcats (2006-08). As a junior in 2007, he earned Second Team All-BIG EAST honors, then tallied 53 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions in his 2008 senior season to help Cincinnati win the BIG EAST and earn a berth in the Orange Bowl.
Ohio returns home to Peden Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29, when it hosts UMass for a Parents Weekend matchup. Kickoff time and television/streaming information will be announced soon. Click here for ticket information or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).