ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (8-4) is headed to Texas to compete against San Diego State (7-5) in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl will be nationally televised on ESPN, with Kevin Brown, 1989 Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware and Kris Budden on the call.
The 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl 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. Ryan Boyd will serve as the sideline reporter. The 12-station network has an over-the-air coverage area that hits three states.
For 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl ticket information, click here.
2018 DXL FRISCO BOWL: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 | Ohio (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5) | 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT | Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Texas | ESPN | Ohio IMG Sports Network | StatBroadcast
• The Bobcats are making their 12th bowl appearance in program history, 10th in the last 13 years and fourth in a row. Ohio has won three bowl games in its history, defeating Utah State, 24-23, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2011, knocking off ULM, 45-14, in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in '12 and rolling to a 41-6 win over UAB in the Bahamas Bowl last year.
• The DXL Frisco Bowl will mark Ohio's first postseason matchup against a team out of the Mountain West Conference and will mark the first-ever meeting between the Bobcats and the Aztecs. Utah State is currently a member of the MWC but was a member of the Western Athletic Conference when the Bobcats beat them in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2011.
• Ohio is set to play its second bowl game in the state of Texas. The Bobcats made their first-ever bowl appearance in the 1962 Sun Bowl in El Paso, falling to West Texas State by a score of 15-14. The DXL Frisco Bowl marks Ohio's third-ever game in played in Texas. The Bobcats beat North Texas in double overtime, 31-30, on Sept. 12, 2009.
• A victory over San Diego State would clinch Ohio's second-straight season with at least nine wins and sixth nine-win season under 14th-year head coach Frank Solich. The Bobcats have clinched their 10th seven-win season under Solich's watch.
• Ohio earned bowl eligibility for the 10th year in a row.
• The Bobcats finished the 2018 regular season 6-0 in games played at Peden Stadium, winning all of their home games in a season for the first time since 1968. Ohio last went unbeaten at home in 1988, when the Bobcats finished their home schedule 3-0-1. Ohio averaged 49.7 points, 558.7 yards and 359.7 rushing yards per game at home this year.
• For the second year in a row, Ohio has put up video game-type numbers in terms of scoring and offense. The Bobcats lead the MAC in scoring offense (41.2 points per game; second-most in program history), total offense (470.7 yards per game; 5,647 total yards gained, third-most in program history), rushing offense (261.9 yards per game, sixth-most in program history; 3,143 rushing yards gained, sixth-most in program history) and pass efficiency (156.1 efficiency rating). The Bobcats put up 433.1 yards per game in 2017, which ranks as the third-most in program history. The program record for yards per game is 455.8, which was set in 2011. Ohio set a program record in 2017 with 39.1 points per game in 2017 and is on pace to break that record. The 494 points scored by Ohio this season are already good for the second-most in a single season in program history. The 2017 squad set the program record with 508 points. Ohio's 38 rushing touchdowns this season lead the MAC and rank as the third-most in a single season in program history. The 2017 squad set the program record with 44 rushing touchdowns.
NINE BOBCATS EARN ALL-MAC RECOGNITION
Ohio was represented by nine student-athletes on the 2018 All-Mid-American Conference Awards list, which was announced by the league office on Nov. 28.
Redshirt senior offensive lineman Joe Anderson, redshirt junior punter/kicker Michael Farkas, redshirt junior defensive back Javon Hagan, redshirt senior offensive lineman Joe Lowery, redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette and redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White all garnered All-MAC First Team selection. Senior linebacker Evan Croutch, junior quarterback Nathan Rourke and redshirt senior offensive lineman Durrell Wood represented the Bobcats on the All-MAC Second Team.
Ohio's six All-MAC First Team selections mark the program's most since the 1968 team tallied seven. The duo of Anderson and Lowery gives Ohio two All-MAC First Team offensive linemen in the same season for the first time since 1968. Anderson, Lowery and Wood Ohio give Ohio three offensive linemen on the All-MAC teams for the third year in a row. Farkas is the first Ohio punter to garner All-MAC First Team recognition since Dave Zastudil achieved the feat for the fourth year in a row in 2001. Ouellette is the first Ohio running back to be named to the All-MAC First Team since Kalvin McRae achieved the feat for the third year in a row in 2007. White is the first Ohio wide receiver to be named to the All-MAC First Team since Eddie Washington in 1983.
The following is a look back at Ohio's MAC victories in 2018:
• The Bobcats completed the 2018 regular season with a 49-28 Senior Day win over MAC East Division rival Akron on Nov. 23 at Peden Stadium. Fittingly, many of Ohio's 20-member senior class contributed to the victory over the Zips. Redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette rumbled for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White became Ohio's all-time leader in career receiving yards. He caught three passes for a team-high 63 yards, giving him 2,530 receiving yards for his career, which broke the mark of 2,511 set by LaVon Brazill (2007-11). Redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons ran for 126 yards on 18 carries, marking his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the year. Defensively, senior linebacker Evan Croutch logged a team-high 10 tackles (six solo, four assisted) -- including two tackles for losses and one sack. Redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson returned a punt 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, marking the first time a Bobcat has run a punt back for a score since Travis Carrie took one 65 yards to the house on Sept. 3, 2011, in a 44-24 win over New Mexico State. Nelson earned MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance. Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke set a career high with four rushing touchdowns, becoming the first Bobcat to run for four touchdowns since running back Dorian Brown did so against UAB in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 22, 2017. He picked up 86 yards on 18 rushes in addition to throwing for 87 yards.
• Redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette rumbled for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries and also caught a touchdown to pave the way to a 52-17 blowout win for Ohio over MAC East Division leader Buffalo on Nov. 14 at Peden Stadium. Ohio piled up 646 total yards -- including a season-high 437 on the ground -- and dominated the time of possession, 43:42-16:18. Ouellette garnered MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season for his efforts against the Bulls. In addition to Ouellette's big night, redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on 12 touches. Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke accumulated 77 yards and a touchdown on the ground on seven rushes. Rourke also went 17-of-26 for 209 yards, three touchdowns and one interception through the air. Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White hauled in eight receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown while freshman wide receiver Jerome Buckner hauled in a 60-yard touchdown pass from Rourke at the start of the second quarter -- the first touchdown catch of Buckner's career. The Bobcats also came up big on defense, limiting Buffalo to 277 total yards -- including just 172 through the air -- and forcing four turnovers. Redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson intercepted a pass while redshirt junior safety Javon Hagan both forced and recovered a fumble. Redshirt sophomore safety Jarren Hampton and redshirt freshman cornerback Tariq Drake also came away with interceptions.
• Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more, and the defense and special teams combined for six takeaways and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown as Ohio rolled to a 59-14 win over MAC West Division foe Western Michigan on Nov. 1 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich. The win clinched Ohio's 10th-straight season of bowl eligibility. The victory marked Ohio's first over Western Michigan since a 27-20 triumph on Oct. 7, 2006. The Bobcats earned their first win in Kalamazoo since a 37-35 victory on Sept. 26, 1998. The Bobcats scored 45 first-half points en route to the victory – the most scored in one half during 14th-year head coach Frank Solich's tenure – and matched the high water mark for points scored in a game under Solich with 59. Ohio's offense racked up 420 total yards – including 256 on the ground.
• Ohio racked up 411 rushing yards in a dominant 52-14 victory over MAC West Division foe Ball State on Oct. 25 at Peden Stadium. The Bobcats' 411 yards via the ground game marked the eighth-most in a single game in program history and the most since Ohio piled up 414 rushing yards in a 38-21 win over Ball State on Oct. 22, 2005. Ohio scored six rushing touchdowns, the program's most in a single game since scoring six in a 47-7 rout at Eastern Michigan on Oct. 4, 1997. In all, the Bobcats piled up 554 total yards of offense and scored on eight-straight possessions. • The Bobcats held Ball State to just 242 total yards of offense -- the lowest output by an Ohio opponent in 2018. Ball State managed just one first down over the second and third quarters. Redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette broke the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time in the 2018 campaign in the win over the Cardinals, racking up a game-high 135 yards on 13 carries and scoring two touchdowns. He was named the MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week for the first time this season for his efforts against Ball State. Redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons picked up 102 yards of 16 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke rushed for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns while going 11-of-19 for 127 yards, a touchdown and an interception through the air.
• The performances against Ball State and at Western Michigan marked the first time an Ohio team has scored at least 50 points in back-to-back games since 2002, when the Bobcats beat Eastern Michigan, 55-27, on Oct. 12, then rolled to a 50-0 win at Kent State on Oct. 19.
• Ohio earned a 49-14 Homecoming victory over MAC East Division rival Bowling Green on Oct. 20 at Peden Stadium. Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke accounted for five total touchdowns, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes and adding another on the ground. He completed of 8-of-12 passes for 193 yards and carried the ball 10 times for 101 yards. Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White caught two touchdown passes and ran for another for his first three-touchdown performance of his career. He finished with a team-high 92 receiving yards. Redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons racked up a game-high 116 rushing yards, marking his second 100-yard rushing performance of the year.
• Ohio opened up MAC play with a thrilling 27-26 come-from-behind win over East Division rival Kent State on Oct. 6 at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio. Ohio trailed 20-7 in the third quarter before storming back to earn the win. Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke kept it himself and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:28 to go, then redshirt senior safety Javon Hagan sealed the win for the Bobcats with 30 seconds left by coming up with an interception. The Bobcats have now won eight-straight MAC openers.
• Ohio's 27-26 win at Kent State marked the first one-point game and victory for Ohio since a 24-23 win on Dec. 17, 2011, over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
• The victory at Kent State gave 14th-year head coach Frank Solich his 100th win at Ohio. Solich is now 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. The Bobcats have gone 104-75 (.581) during Solich's tenure -- including 69-42 (.605) in MAC play. Solich has guided Ohio to four MAC East Division titles (2006, '09, '11, '16) and three bowl victories in nine appearances.
CALL IT A COMEBACK
Six of Ohio's eight victories in 2018 have been of the comeback variety. The Bobcats trailed Howard 22-10 in the second quarter before rallying for a 38-32 win on Sept. 1 at Peden Stadium. Ohio trailed UMass by a 21-7 score in the first quarter before fighting back for a 58-42 win to close out non-conference play on Sept. 29 at Peden Stadium. The Bobcats erased a 20-7 third-quarter deficit to rally back and earn a 27-26 victory at Kent State. Against Bowling Green, the Falcons scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the game before Ohio outscored them 49-14 the rest of the way. Against Ball State, the Cardinals led 7-0 after the first quarter before Ohio exploded for 52 points that went unanswered until Ball State scored a touchdown late touchdown in the fourth quarter. Buffalo scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game before Ohio scoured them by a 52-10 count the rest of the way.
Fourteenth-year head coach Frank Solich and the Ohio program pride themselves on the motto of 'No Limits', meaning the Bobcats will not put constraints on what can be achieved. That motto was put to the test late in the season as Ohio played its final six games of the 2018 regular season in a span of 35 days.
Quarterback Nathan Rourke has reaffirmed his place as one of the MAC's top quarterbacks. Rourke has completed 154 of his 252 pass attempts (61.1 percent completion percentage, sixth-best in program history) for a career-high 2,228 yards (ninth-most in program history) and a career-high 22 touchdown passes (second-most in program history). He finished the regular season ranked fifth in the MAC in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns. His 185.7 passing yards per game rank as the ninth-highest average in program history while his 14.5 passing yards per completion lead the MAC and rank ninth nationally and are good for the ninth-highest average in program history. He is averaging 8.8 yards per passing attempt, which is good for first in the MAC and 12th in the country and ranks as the second-highest average in program history. His passing efficiency rating of 158.6 is tops in program history and ranks first in the MAC and 14th nationally. Rourke has also run for 816 yards (68.0 yard per game) to rank third on the team and leads the squad with 13 rushing touchdowns, with the latter tying him for the sixth-most in a single season in program history. In all, Rourke has accounted for 3,044 yards of total offense (fourth-most in program history), with his 253.7 yards per game of total offense ranking as the third-highest average in program history and his 8.07 yards per play ranking as the highest average in program history. He has been responsible for 35 total touchdowns in 2018, which is good for the third-most in program history.
Rourke got the job done with both his arms and his legs in the victory over UMass, rushing for a career-high 189 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. He also passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns, going 27-of-32 through the air with one interception. Rourke earned MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in his career for his performance against the Minutemen. He was also recognized as one of the Davey O'Brien Award's "Great 8" honorees for his efforts against UMass.
Rourke followed up the performance against the Minutemen with another strong outing at Kent State. He completed 18-of-20 passes in the win, setting an Ohio record for completion percentage in a game by connecting on 90 percent of his attempts. He threw for 284 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also added 49 yards on the ground on 15 rushing attempts -- including the game-winning touchdown. He was recognized as the MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row for his efforts against the Golden Flashes.
Rourke earned his third MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week nod in the month of October on Oct. 22 for his performance against Bowling Green.
Rourke, who entered his junior season with his name appearing on the Manning, Maxwell and O'Brien award watch lists, is ranked second in program history with 39 career passing touchdowns, fifth with 4,431 career passing yards and seventh with 315 career completions. He has also tallied 34 career rushing touchdowns, which ranks as the third-most in program history. His 74 career touchdowns responsible for are the second-most in program history.
AIR CANADA (WITH GROUND SUPPORT)
Quarterback Nathan Rourke burst onto the scene for Ohio in 2017, earning All-MAC Second Team honors for his efforts. He etched his name in the program's top-10 for passing yards (2,203; ninth), completions (161; tied-10th), touchdown passes (17; seventh) and passing efficiency (132.9; ninth) in a single season. He threw for the most yards by an Ohio sophomore signal caller since Tyler Tettleton passed for 3,302 yards in 2011.
Rourke proved problematic for opposing defenses not only because of his arm but because of his legs as well. He set the program record for rushing touchdowns in a single season with 21, which tied him for third-most in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in 2017 with Washington running back Myles Gaskin and ranked as the most by a quarterback in the country last season. His 6.66 yards per carry a year ago rank as the fourth-highest in a single season in program history and ranked as the 11th-highest average in the country, finishing just behind former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson (6.90) of Louisville. Rourke tallied five 100-yard games last season, tying him for the 10th-most in a single season in program history.
In all, Rourke accounted for 3,115 total yards of offense (sixth-most in a single season in program history), averaging 7.26 yards per play (second-most in a single season in program history) and 239.6 yards per game (fourth-most in a single season in program history. He set Ohio's single-season scoring record with 132 points (tied for sixth-most in the nation in 2017), 22 touchdowns scored (fifth-most in the nation in 2017) and 39 touchdowns responsible for. His 234 points responsible for tied him for ninth-most in the country last year.
MILESTONE ACHIEVED (AGAIN)
Redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette ranks second in the MAC with a career-high 1,142 rushing yards (seventh-most in program history) and a career-high 95.2 rushing yards per game (eighth-most in program history). He became just the fourth player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons. His career-high 12 rushing touchdowns rank second on the team and are tied for the ninth-most in a single season in program history while his career-high 14 total touchdowns scored ties him for the sixth-most in a single season in program history. Ouellette has rushed for over 100 yards four times this year, going for over 165 yards in each of the last three games, which included a career-high 196 yards in the victory over Buffalo. He was named the MAC Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus on Dec. 1.
Ouellette scored his first touchdown of the 2018 in Ohio's 34-30 loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 22, running into the end zone from nine yards out. In the win over UMass, he raced 49 yards for a touchdown on Ohio's first drive of the second half. At Kent State, Ouellette led the Bobcats on the ground with 72 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in the win over the Golden Flashes. At Northern Illinois, Ouellette scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. He added two more rushing touchdowns to his total against Ball State, then ran one in from 17 yards out in the third quarter of the win at Western Michigan.
Ouellette has moved into third place on Ohio's all-time rushing list this year with 3,620 career rushing yards. His 32 career rushing touchdowns rank as the fourth-most in program history. He has tallied 13 career 100-yard rushing games, which ranks as the fifth-most in program history.
Redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons scored a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in Ohio's 45-31 loss to Virginia on Sept. 15 in Nashville, Tenn. 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. In the victory over UMass, Irons rumbled for a career-high 140 yards and matched his career high with two rushing touchdowns on 13 carries. The win over Ball State marked his third effort of the season with multiple touchdown runs. Irons ran for 126 yards on 18 carries in the win over Akron, marking his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the year.
Through 13 games in 2018, Irons ranks second on the team and fourth in the MAC with a career-high 831 rushing yards on 126 carries. He is also third on the team with a career-high eight rushing touchdowns. In the loss at Cincinnati, he hauled in a 12-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter for his first career receiving touchdown.
PAVING THE WAY
Ohio's rushing attack ranks eighth in the nation and first in the MAC with 261.9 yards per game. The solid play of the offensive line is owed a large amount of credit for that success, with redshirt junior right tackle Austen Pleasants, redshirt senior right guard Durrell Wood, sophomore center Brett Kitrell, redshirt senior left guard Joe Anderson and redshirt senior left tackle Joe Lowery paving the way. Junior Steven Hayes filled in at center for an injured Kitrell in Ohio's wins over Ball State, Western Michigan and Buffalo.
The offensive line has also done a nice job of keeping the opposition's hands off the quarterback, allowing only 19 sacks so far this year, which ranks as third-fewest sacks allowed by a MAC team.
Lowery earned national recognition for his play when he was named MAC Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus. He was also named to the 2018 Pro Football Focus All-American Second Team Offense. According to Pro Football Focus, Lowery was third-highest graded offensive tackle across the entire nation during the regular season. He allowed just nine total QB pressures on 334 snaps in pass protection. He also led the nation's tackles with his 85.3 run-blocking grade.
MOVING THE CHAINS
Ohio's offense is the best in the MAC in third down conversions, moving the chains 48.3 percent of the time, which is good for ninth in the country.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White, who began his career at Ohio as a running back, is poised to depart Athens as one of the most prolific pass catchers in the history of the program. White became Ohio's all-time leader in career receiving yards this season with 2,530, breaking the mark of 2,511 set by LaVon Brazill (2007-11). He needs three more touchdown receptions to give him a program-record 22 for his career, which would surpass the 21 scored by Donte' Foster (2010-13). White's 157 career receptions rank as the fourth-most in program history.
White enters the DXL Frisco Bowl ranked third in the MAC and 26th in the country with nine receiving touchdowns, which is tied for the second-most in a single season in program history. He needs three more touchdown catches to break the single-season record of 11 set by LaVon Brazill in 2011. White's career-high 897 receiving yards rank second in the MAC while his 74.8 receiving yards per game rank third. His career-high 4.8 receptions per game also rank second in the league and are good for the ninth-highest average in a single season in program history. White's career-high 58 receptions rank as the eighth-most in a single season in program history.
In the win over UMass, White caught six passes for 84 yards and set a new career high with two touchdown receptions. He 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 Smith achieved the feat on Sept. 17, 2016 against then-No. 15-ranked Tennessee.
KEEPING IT 100
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cameron Odom enjoyed a breakout performance at Cincinnati, producing his first career 100-yard receiving game by finishing with a career-high 114 yards on five receptions. Ohio had at least one receiver record at least 100 yards in four-straight games dating back to the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, a streak that ended in the victory over UMass.
Odom has hauled in a career-high 29 receptions this season to rank third on the team and ranks third on the squad with 404 receiving yards, which is also a career high.
IGNITING THE COMEBACK
Redshirt senior wide receiver Andrew Meyer gained a team-high 90 receiving yards on four receptions and hauled in his third career touchdown in the comeback win at Kent State. With the Bobcats trailing the Golden Flashes 20-7 in the third quarter, Meyer helped ignite Ohio's comeback when he caught a pass from junior quarterback Nathan Rourke in stride and raced 59 yards for a touchdown. The reception marked the longest of Meyer's career. A finance major, Meyer was recognized as the MAC Male Scholar Athlete of the Week on Oct. 10 after his performance against Kent State.
Meyer has caught four touchdowns over the last eight games. He hauled in a 24-yard scoring reception in the second quarter against Bowling Green, snatched a 21-yard touchdown with two seconds left in the first half against Ball State and then caught an 18-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter at Miami. He ranks second on the team this year with 34 receptions, 445 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.
FIRST THING'S FIRST
In the loss to Virginia, redshirt freshman wide receiver Isiah Cox caught his first career pass, which went for 36 yards and a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Jerome Buckner also hauled in his first two career receptions and finished the game with 44 receiving yards.
Cox put together a breakout performance at Northern Illinois, racking up a career-high 147 receiving yards and scoring a career-long 56-yard touchdown. He also recorded a career-long reception of 70 yards in the second quarter. Cox became the third different Ohio wide receiver to achieve a 100-yard receiving performance in 2018. He pulled in a 10-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter of the win at Western Michigan -- his third receiving touchdown of the season.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU
In the loss at Northern Illinois, redshirt senior tight end Connor Brown caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Nathan Rourke in the third quarter -- the first touchdown catch of Brown's career.
Redshirt sophomore tight end Adam Luehrman -- a native of Athens -- snagged his first career reception for his first career touchdown off an eight-yard pass from junior quarterback Nathan Rourke in the victory at Western Michigan, helping to make it a 38-0 lead for the Bobcats in the second quarter.
Adam moved up to the No. 2 spot at tight end on the depth chart as his twin brother, Ryan Luehrman, sat out with an injury. The Luehrman twins starred for Athens High School, helping to lead the Bulldogs to a 2014 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III State Championship Game alongside current LSU starting quarterback Joe Burrow, who is the son of Ohio's 14th-year defensive coordinator, Jimmy Burrow.
DOUBLE THE FUN
Ohio's roster has the unique distinction of having two sets of identical twins in redshirt sophomore tight ends Adam Luehrman and Ryan Luehrman and redshirt sophomore cornerbacks Ilyaas Motley and Xavior Motley. All four have contributed this season.
MAKING A STAND
Through the first four games of the 2018 season, Ohio's defense allowed the opposition to average 38.2 points and 518 total yards per contest. Since MAC play began, however, the Bobcats have buckled down, surrendering 20.9 points per game and 340.4 total yards per game.
STUFFING THE RUN
Ohio ranks second in the MAC in rushing defense, allowing 135.8 rushing yards per game.
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Kent Berger is pacing Ohio with five sacks this season. A finance major, Berger was named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District 5 Division I Team last Thursday (Nov. 18). The 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District Football Team, selected by CoSIDA, recognizes the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom. The Google Cloud Academic All-America® program separately recognizes football honorees in four divisions — NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA. First-team Academic All-District® honorees advance to the Google Cloud Academic All-America ballot. First and second-team (if applicable) Academic All-America honorees will be announced in early December.
Berger has compiled a career-high 33 tackles in 2018 and has tallied a career-high 6.5 tackles for loss to rank second on the team.
Ohio has produced 30 takeaways in 2018, which is the most in the country. 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.
The Bobcats rank second in the country with 15 fumble recoveries in 2018 and lead the league with 15 passes intercepted, which is good for 14th in the country. Senior linebacker Evan Croutch, redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson, junior safety Javon Hagan, redshirt sophomore linebacker Jared Dorsa and redshirt sophomore safety Jarren Hampton have each tallied two interceptions to tie for the team lead. Sophomore cornerback Marlin Brooks has forced a team-high three fumbles and is tied with redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Will Evans with two fumble recoveries.
Senior linebacker Evan Croutch leads the team with a career-high 79 total tackles (54 solo, 25 assisted) for a team-high 6.6 tackles per game. His career-high four sacks rank second on the squad, and he is tied for the team lead with a career-high two interceptions. Croutch has tallied double-digit tackles on three occasions this year.
Redshirt junior kicker/punter Michael Farkas tied for the league lead with 43.6 yards per punt in the regular season, which ranks as the fourth-best average in a single season in program history. He has totaled 1,830 punting yards this season. Fifteen of his punts have landed inside the 20, and 19 have been fair caught. He recorded season-long punts of 59 yards three times this year. Farkas has totaled 7,077 punting yards in his career, which ranks as the fourth-most in program history. He has punted 171 times in his career, which ranks sixth in program history. His 41.4 career punting average is second-best in program history.
In the season-opening victory over Howard, Farkas set career highs with eight punts and 368 punting yards in the win.
In the loss to Virginia, Farkas 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. Farkas was recognized as the MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts against Virginia, earning such honors for the second time in his career and first time since Oct. 3, 2016.
In the loss at Cincinnati, Farkas punted four times for 190 yards, averaging 47.5 yards per punt with a long of 55 yards in the second quarter. The win at Kent State saw Farkas post his highest punting average of the season, averaging his highest punting average of the season with 53 yards per punt -- including one in the first quarter that went for 59 yards and tied his season high. In the loss at Northern Illinois, Farkas punted five times for 199 yards. He matched his long punt of the season once again with another 59-yarder and placed two of his punts inside the opponent 20-yard line. Farkas was once again named MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts.
JUST FOR KICKS
Redshirt junior kicker Louie Zervos made all three of his field goal attempts at Cincinnati -- including a season-long 47 yarder in the fourth quarter. He then made three more field goals in the victory over UMass. He is 11-for-15 (73 percent) on the season after making a 22 yarder in the second quarter last Wednesday against Buffalo. He has knocked down all 65 of his extra point attempts this year to set a single-season program record after making all seven of his attempts against Akron, marking the sixth time this year he has made at least seven extra point attempts in a game. His 65 extra point attempts this year are the most in a single season in program history. He is one of just three kickers in the history of the program to make over 100 extra points, leading the way with 161. He passed Matt Weller (120; 2009-12) as the program's all-time leader in extra points made in the loss at Northern Illinois after making his third of the contest.
Zervos was named MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 29 after making all seven of his extra point attempts and converting a 23-yard field goal in the victory over Ball State.
SPECIAL, SPECIAL TEAMS
Redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson's 37-yard punt return for a touchdown against Akron capped off a regular season in which Ohio's special teams excelled.
Redshirt junior wide receiver/kick returner DL Knock helped swing the momentum of the contest against Howard in favor of the Bobcats when took the second-half kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to tie a school record. Ohio was trailing Howard, 22-17, at halftime, but Knock's return sparked a stretch in which it scored two touchdowns in 1:37 to flip the script. Knock became the first Ohio player to bring a kick back 100 yards since Daz' Patterson went 100 yards to the house against Buffalo on Oct. 6, 2012. It marked the first time Ohio returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Nov. 25, 2014 at Miami when Nelson brought one back 84 yards. Knock finished the game with three kickoff returns for 125 yards. Knock was named the MAC East Division Week One Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 3.
In the win at Western Michigan, Knock blocked a punt by Western Michigan freshman Nick Mihalic in the first quarter, and the loose football was scooped up by redshirt freshman safety Alvin Floyd and returned for a touchdown. Knock's blocked punt marked the first by an Ohio player since Grant Cunningham blocked one against Eastern Illinois in 2014, and Floyd's return of the blocked punt for a touchdown marked the first by a Bobcat since Melvin Payne ran one back 15 yards for a score in 2009 at Akron. Floyd was named MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week last Monday (Nov. 5).
The Bobcats then scored a touchdown via a blocked punt for the second week in their game at Miami. Miami redshirt junior punter Kyle Kramer could not cleanly get the punt off, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Jared Dorsa blocked the attempted kick. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dylan Conner was there to scoop up the loose ball and return it 28 yards for a touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining in the contest.
In the loss at Cincinnati, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Will Evans blocked his first career field goal. The Bearcats sent out freshman kicker Cole Smith to attempt a 49-yard field goal before time expired in the first half. His try was blocked by Evans, however, and Ohio took a 24-7 advantage into halftime.
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE
The Aztecs are making their ninth-straight bowl game appearance. San Diego State will enter the DXL Frisco Bowl having lost its final three regular season games, but the Aztecs' year was highlighted by wins over a pair of ranked teams, defeating then-No. 23/25-ranked Arizona State, 28-21, on Sept. 15 and topping then-No. 24-ranked Boise State, 19-13, on Oct. 6. The Aztecs faced one MAC team this season, defeating Eastern Michigan, 23-20, in overtime on Sept. 22.
The Aztecs own the fourth-best rushing defense in the country, limiting the opposition to just 94.5 rushing yards per game. San Diego State is ranked second among Mountain West Conference teams in points allowed per game (21.8) and third in total yards allowed per game (327.4).
San Diego State is led by Rocky Long, who has been the head coach of the Aztecs since 2011. Under Long, the Aztecs have gone 71-34.
The Aztecs boast two All-Mountain West First Team selections in sophomore offensive lineman Keith Ismael and junior linebacker Kyahva Tezino. Senior offensive lineman Ryan Pope, senior placekicker John Baron II and sophomore defensive back Tariq Thompson all earned spots on the All-Mountain West Second Team.
Junior running back Juwan Washington leads San Diego State with 870 rushing yards (108.8 per game) and 10 rushing touchdowns. Junior quarterback Ryan Agnew has thrown for 1,525 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Senior wide receiver Fred Trevillion has logged a team-high 598 receiving yards and is tied with junior tight end Kahale Warring and sophomore wide receiver Tim Wilson Jr. for the team lead with three receiving touchdowns. Tezino has piled up 120 total tackles, 8.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries to lead San Diego State on the defensive side of the ball.
OHIO-SAN DIEGO STATE CONNECTIONS
First-year Ohio offensive line coach Bart Miller played for San Diego State head coach Rocky Long at New Mexico. Long served as the head coach of the Lobos from 1999-2008. Miller earned Academic All-Mountain West Conference honors as both a junior and a senior.
The Bobcats boast one player on their roster from the state of Texas -- redshirt freshman wide receiver Willie Cherry, who is from Wichita Falls. Wichita Falls is located just over two hours northwest of Frisco. Cherry was a two-year team captain at Rider High School where he played both wide receiver and quarterback.