Ohio Game Notes (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- The eyes of the college football universe will be on Athens, Ohio, on Wednesday (Nov. 6) as the Ohio football team (4-4, 3-1 MAC) begins MACtion by welcoming Mid-American Conference East Division archrival Miami (4-4, 3-1 MAC) to Peden Stadium for a nationally televised showdown on ESPN2. Kickoff for the 'Battle of the Bricks' is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Ohio will be joining the MAC, the NCAA and ESPN in celebrating the 150th anniversary of college football in 2019, as the contest against the RedHawks is being played on the 150th anniversary of the first-ever college football game. Ohio will look to make history that day with a call to students and fans to create the first-ever sellout of a MAC midweek game. The celebration will include one enrolled Ohio University student in attendance winning free tuition for the spring 2020 semester as well as a pregame student tailgate inside Walter Fieldhouse.
Matt Barrie, Desmond Howard and Holly Rowe will have the call on ESPN2.
Wednesday's game can also be heard on the Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 12th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio Alum Rob Cornelius has been a part of the broadcasts for two decades. WXTQ (Power 105) in Athens returns as the 11-station network's flagship. The broadcasts are also available online through TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats and on the TuneIn app.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 | Ohio (4-4, 3-1 MAC) vs. Miami (4-4, 3-1 MAC) | 8 p.m. ET | Peden Stadium | Athens, Ohio | ESPN2 | WatchESPN | Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College | TuneIn | Live Stats
Wednesday's game marks the 96th meeting on the gridiron between the Bobcats and the RedHawks. Miami holds a 53-40-2 lead in the all-time series, but Ohio has won 11 of the last 13 matchups, including six in a row at Peden Stadium.
The Bobcats will be looking to avenge a 30-28 loss to the RedHawks in the previous meeting, which took place Nov. 7, 2018, in Oxford, Ohio.
The winner of Wednesday's matchup will take control of the first place in the MAC East Division.
SOLICH GOING FOR MAC RECORD
Frank Solich is 110-79 during his tenure as head coach of the Bobcats. His 110 victories are the second-most in program history behind behind Don Peden (1924-46; 121). With one more win, Solich will pass Herb Deromedi (110, Central Michigan, 1978-93) for the most by a MAC head coach. Ohio has gone 73-43 in conference play since Solich's arrival in Athens. His 73 MAC wins rank second to Deromedi's 90.
Solich owns a career coaching record of 168-98. His 168 wins rank as the fourth most among active NCAA FBS head coaches behind Alabama's Nick Saban (240), North Carolina's Mack Brown (231) and TCU's Gary Patterson (171).
RUNNING IN THE RAIN
Ohio piled up a season-high 316 rushing yards to beat Ball State, 34-21, in a battle of MAC leaders that was played in a driving rain on Oct. 26 at Scheumann Stadium.
The Bobcats handed the Cardinals their first conference loss of the 2019 season and claimed a victory in Muncie for the first time since 2009. Ohio maintained its hold on first place in the MAC East Division with the win.
Ohio boasted a pair of 100-yard rushers, with senior quarterback Nathan Rourke leading the way with a season-high 127 and two rushing touchdowns. He recorded his eighth career 100-yard rushing game and has now scored 44 career rushing touchdowns, which is good for third-most in program history. Redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison rushed for a career-high 104 yards while junior running back De'Montre Tuggle ran for 50 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns, marking his third outing of the season with multiple rushing touchdowns and second in a row.
On a tough day for passing the football, Rourke completed eight of his 16 attempts for 131 yards. His top target was redshirt sophomore wide receiver Isiah Cox who caught five passes for 92 yards.
ROURKE EARNS MAC HONORS
Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke was named the MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week for week nine of the 2019 season after his performance at Ball State.
Rourke was recognized with weekly conference honors for the second week in a row, third time this season and ninth time in his career.
Rourke was also recognized as the MAC Male Scholar Athlete of the Week for the second time this season.
The Scholar Athlete of the Week Award is presented to a MAC male and/or female student-athlete who has a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better and performs well during that week's competition. An institution can nominate up to one male and one female student-athlete per week in any of that current season's sports. The winners are selected by a representative of the MAC's Faculty Athletics Representatives (FARs).
NOTABLES AT BALL STATE
• Redshirt freshman linebacker Keye Thompson registered his first career forced fumble. On the game's first play from scrimmage, forced Ball State junior running back Caleb Huntley to cough up the ball, and junior cornerback Marlin Brooks was there to recover for the Bobcats. The turnover led to a 10-play, 36-yard scoring drive for Ohio. Thompson, who was making his second-straight start at weakside linebacker, finished the contest with seven total tackles (four solo) to rank second on the team and led the squad with 1.5 tackles for loss, including a half a sack.
• Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Kai Caesar blocked his first career field goal. With the Bobcats protecting a 27-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, Caesar blocked a 24-yard field goal attempt by Ball State senior kicker Ryan Rimmler. Caesar, who made his fourth-straight start for the Bobcats on the defensive line, finished the contest with two total tackles.
• Ohio dominated the time of possession over Ball State, holding a 19:44 advantage (39:52-20:08).
• Ohio's offensive line did not give up a sack for the second game in a row.
MOVING THE CHAINS
Ohio ranks 12th in the country and first among MAC teams with a 48.6 percent third-down conversion rate. The Bobcats have converted at least half of their third down attempts in three of their first four conference game this season.
Ohio's red zone offense is tops in the MAC and 12th in the country, converting 93.8 percent of its trips into points.
The Bobcats rank 23rd in the country and second in the conference in fewest penalties per game (5.25), 30th in the nation and second in the MAC in fewest penalties (42), 40th in the nation and second in the MAC in fewest penalty yards per game (49.75) and 46th in the country and second in the MAC in fewest penalty yards (398).
WE'VE GOT IT COVERED
Ohio's kickoff return defense is ranked second in the MAC and eighth in the country, surrendering just 16.45 yards per return, while its punt return defense ranks second in the conference and 25th in the nation by allowing just 4.33 yards per return.
HOME IS WHERE THE WINS ARE
The Bobcats went a perfect 6-0 at Peden Stadium in 2018, marking the first time Ohio has won all of its home games since 1968. Ohio went unbeaten at home for the first time since 1988, when the Bobcats finished their home schedule with a record of 3-0-1. Ohio has won 16 of its last 19 games played at Peden Stadium.
• Air Canada is back for his senior season. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke, a two-time All-MAC Second Team selection, has played in 34 games with 32 starts over the last three seasons with the Bobcats and owns a 21-11 record as a starting quarterback. The Bobcats have averaged a staggering 37.3 points per game with Rourke starting under center, which ranks behind only Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (22 starts, 46.6 pgg), UCF's McKenzie Milton (33 starts; 40.6 ppg), Utah State's Jordan Love (26 starts, 38.6 ppg) and Oregon's Justin Herbert (36 starts; 37.8 ppg) among Football Bowl Subdivision signal callers who have made a minimum of 15 starts.
• Rourke is ranked first in program history with a career passing efficiency rating of 143.5 and 187.6 passing yards per game, second with 6,380 passing yards and 50 career passing touchdowns, fourth with a career completion percentage of 57.9 percent (447-of-772), fifth with 14.3 career yards per completion and third with 447 career completions. He has also tallied 44 career rushing touchdowns, which ranks as the third-most in program history, and has rushed for more touchdowns than any other quarterback in NCAA FBS over the last two-plus seasons. Rourke has been responsible for a school-record 96 career touchdowns. He ranks third in program history with 46 career touchdowns scored and fifth with 276 career points scored. Rourke is a two-time winner of the Joe Cornish Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding Canadian player in NCAA Football. He has helped guide Ohio to a pair of bowl victories, with the Bobcats topping UAB, 41-6, in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl and shutting out San Diego State, 27-0, in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl.
• Through eight games in 2019, Rourke ranks ninth in the MAC in rushing yards (536) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (8), both of which lead Ohio. He's ranked fourth in the league with 1,743 passing yards. His 2,279 yards of total offense rank second in the MAC while his nine touchdowns scored rank fourth.
• Javon Hagan is back for his redshirt senior season as the starting free safety. Hagan has earned All-MAC recognition in each of the last three years, earning First Team honors twice (2016, '18) and Second Team recognition once (2017). A starter in 43 of the 47 career games he has played in, Hagan has compiled 283 career total tackles (174 solo, 109 assisted), with 9.0 career tackles for loss, has accounted for 29 career passes defensed (ninth-most in program history), has tallied six career interceptions for 132 career interception return yards, has notched 23 career pass breakups (10th-most in program history) and has forced eight career fumbles with four career fumble recoveries. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, he was named to the Sound Mind Sound Body Freshman All-America Team by the Football Writers Association of America and earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors after picking off a career-high three passes and totaling 120 interception return yards and forcing a career-high six fumbles -- good for third in the country and first in the MAC -- with one fumble recovery
• Through eight games in 2019, Hagan has compiled a team-high 67 total tackles (29 solo; second-most on the team) with three tackles for loss, one sack and a team-high four pass breakups.
• Louie Zervos is back for his redshirt senior season as placekicker. He ranks first in program history with 192 career extra points made and has made his last 100, second with 66 career field goals made and second with 390 career points scored. In the win over Rhode Island, Zervos accounted for 11 points after knocking down a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 42-yarder in the third in addition to converting all five of his extra point attempts.
• Redshirt senior punter Michael Farkas earned All-MAC First Team honors a year ago and is second in school history in career punting average (41.3 yards). He also ranks third in program history in career punting yards (8,518) and fourth in career punts (206). With two more punts, he will pass Dave Zastudil (207; 1998-01) for the second-most in program history.
• Redshirt senior Devin King returns as starting long and short snapper after earning the job as a walk-on a year ago. King was added to the Patrick Mannelly Long Snapper Award Watch List last month. The Patrick Mannelly Long Snapper Award celebrates the best long snappers in college football.
CROMER ERA BEGINS FOR OHIO ATHLETICS
• The season opener against Rhode Island marked the first official day of work for new Director of Athletics Julie Cromer.
Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis appointed Cromer to the position on Aug. 15. She joins the Bobcats as Ohio's first female athletics director in University history.
Cromer comes to Ohio University from the University of Arkansas, where she has served most recently as senior deputy athletics director, associate vice chancellor and senior woman administrator for Razorback Athletics. In addition to her executive role at Arkansas, Cromer is a respected leader within college athletics nationally. She currently serves on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and is a member of the Board of Directors of Women Leaders in College Sports.
Prior to Arkansas, Cromer spent 10 years of her career in the NCAA national office, including as the director of academic and membership affairs, working to advance NCAA academic reform and other policy initiatives. She left the NCAA to join Indiana University as the executive associate athletics director, where she was one of the first women in the Big Ten to supervise all elements of a collegiate football program.
AYE AYE, CAPTAIN
• Redshirt senior safety Javon Hagan, redshirt senior offensive lineman Austen Pleasants, senior quarterback Nathan Rourke, redshirt junior wide receiver Cameron Odom and redshirt senior defensive lineman Will Evans will serve as Ohio's five team captains in 2019.
Hagan enters his third season serving as a team captain while Rourke is in his second. Evans, Odom and Pleasants are all serving as captains for the first time.
DEGREES IN HAND
• Ohio's roster features four players who have already earned their undergraduate degrees -- punter Michael Farkas (Communications Studies), free safety Javon Hagan (Sport Management), long snapper Devin King (Health Services Administration) and offensive lineman Austen Pleasants (Physical Activity and Sport Coaching).
STANDOUTS IN THE CLASSROOM
• The Bobcats return nine players who earned Academic All-MAC honors in 2018 -- linebacker Austin Clack, linebacker Dylan Conner, defensive lineman Austin Conrad, linebacker Jared Dorsa, cornerback Tariq Drake, offensive lineman Brett Kitrell, running back Jake Neatherton, linebacker Eric Popp and quarterback Nathan Rourke. Conner, Kitrell and Rourke all earned MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete recognition.
SERIES HISTORY VS. MIAMI
Dating back to 1908, Ohio is 24-21 against Miami in games played in Athens. The Bobcas last hosted the RedHawks on Oct. 31, 2017 - a 45-28 win for Ohio.Miami has not won at Peden Stadium since a 38-7 victory on Nov. 21, 2005.
• Chuck Martin is in his fifth season as the head coach at Miami. The RedHawks have gone 26-43 under his watch.
• The RedHawks were predicted to finish second in the East Division in the MAC Media Preseason Poll. Miami went 6-6 in 2018, including a 6-2 mark in conference play.
• Miami enters Wednesday's game having won three of its previous four MAC games. The RedHawks opened league play with a 34-20 win over Buffalo on Sept. 28, edged Northern Illinois by a 27-24 score on Oct. 19 and earned their first road win of the season on Oct. 26 at Kent State, 23-16.
• Freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert has started all eight games for Miami in 2019, completing 104 of his 196 passing attempts (53.1 percent) for 1,360 yards and five touchdowns. He has also thrown five interceptions.
• Redshirt freshman running back Tyre Shelton leads Miami with 315 rushing yards while junior running back Jaylon Bester has scored a team-high five rushing touchdowns and has rushed for 267 yards.
• Three Miami receivers have logged over 200 receving yards this season: junior Dominique Robinson (290 on 13 receptions), redshirt sophomore Jalen Walker (288 on 15 receptions) and freshman James Maye (235 on 12 receptions).
• Redshirt sophomore defensive back Sterling Weatherford and redshirt junior linebacker Ryan McWood are tied for the team lead in total tackles with 57 apiece, with McWood accounting for a team-high 34 solo stops. Senior defensive back Bart Baratti and sophomore defensive lineman Kameron Butler have both accounted for eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, tying for the team lead.
• Miami's defense has forced seven fumbles with six recoveries this season. Senior linebacker Myles Reid leads the team with a conference-high three forced fumbles. The RedHawks have picked off seven passes this year, with junior defensive back Mike Brown and senior defensive back Travion Banks tied for the team lead with two interceptions apiece.
• Senior placekicker Sam Sloman has converted 15 of his 18 field goal attempts this season with a long of 53 yards. Sloman also handles kickoff duties for Miami, avering 62.1 yards per kick with 29 touchbacks.
• Redshirt senior punter Kyle Kramer averages 45.5 yards per punt.
BOBCATS IN THE NFL
As the NFL celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019, the Bobcats are represented by three alumni in the league.
Cornerback T.J. Carrie (2010-13) is in his sixth year in the league and his second as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Outside linebacker Tarell Basham (2013-16) is in his third season in the NFL and his second as a member of the New York Jets. Linebacker Quentin Poling, who spent the 2018 season on the practice squad of the Miami Dolphins, was signed to the Oakland Raiders practice squad on Sept. 25.
Former quarterback Tyler Tettleton (2009-13) is beginning his first season as the offensive quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2019.
Ohio will play its final home game of the 2019 season on Tuesday, Nov. 12, when it welcomes MAC West Division foe Western Michigan to Peden Stadium for a nationally televised Senior Night matchup on ESPN2. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.