Ohio Game Notes (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (4-5, 3-2 MAC) will play its final home game of the 2019 season on Tuesday (Nov. 12), when it welcomes Mid-American Conference West Division foe Western Michigan (6-4, 4-2 MAC) to Peden Stadium for a nationally televised Senior Night matchup on ESPN2. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.
Mark Neely and Rocky Boiman will have the call on ESPN2.
Tuesday'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.
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 | Ohio (4-5, 3-2 MAC) vs. Western Michigan (6-4, 4-2 MAC) | 6:30 p.m. ET | Peden Stadium | Athens, Ohio | ESPN2 | WatchESPN | Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College | TuneIn | Live Stats | Tickets
SO LONG, SENIORS
Ohio's senior class will bid farewell to Peden Stadium on Tuesday. The class includes the following student-athletes who have played starting roles for the Bobcats: defensive tackle Brian Arp, defensive tackle Cole Baker, punter/kickoff specialist Michael Farkas, offensive lineman Marques Grimes, safety Javon Hagan, offensive lineman Steven Hayes, longsnapper Devin King, special teams ace DL Knock, offensive lineman Austen Pleasants, linebacker Eric Popp, quarterback Nathan Rourke and placekicker Louie Zervos.
SHAKE IT OFF
Ohio is looking to bounce back from a tough 24-21 setback to MAC East Division archrival Miami last Wednesday (Nov. 6) in the 96th edition of the 'Battle of the Bricks' at Peden Stadium. With the loss, the Bobcats will need to win and get help to have a shot at winning the East Division title.
Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the loss to the RedHawks. He finished the contest with 89 rushing yards on 16 attempts while completing 15 of his 27 passing attempts for 133 yards. He has now scored 46 career rushing touchdowns, moving him into second place in program history as he passed Kalvin McRae (45; 2004-07).
NOTABLES VS. MIAMI
• Ohio lost to Miami at home for the first time since a 38-7 defeat on Nov. 21, 2005.
• The Bobcats lost to the RedHawks despite holding decisive edges in plays (73-47), total yards (374-278), rushing yards (241-129) and time of possession (36:07-23:53). Ohio also converted 11 of 17 (64.7 percent) third-down attempts while Miami went just 3 of 10 (30 percent) on third down. The RedHawks did win the turnover battle, however, 2-0, and turned one of the takeaways into a touchdown drive.
SOLICH GOING FOR MAC RECORD
Frank Solich is 110-80 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).
MOVING THE CHAINS
Ohio ranks eighth in the country and first among MAC teams with a 50.8 percent third-down conversion rate (62 of 122). The Bobcats have converted at least half of their third down attempts in four of their first five conference game this season.
Ohio's red zone offense is tops in the MAC and 16th in the country, converting 93.8 percent (33 of 36) of its trips into points.
The Bobcats rank 26th in the country and second in the conference in fewest penalties per game (5.33) and 21st in the nation and second in the MAC in fewest penalties (48).
WE'VE GOT IT COVERED
Ohio's kickoff return defense is ranked second in the MAC and seventh in the country, surrendering just 16.48 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 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 20 games played at Peden Stadium, although the Bobcats are just 2-3 at home so far in 2019.
• Air Canada is back for his senior season. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke, a two-time All-MAC Second Team selection, has played in 35 games with 33 starts over the last three seasons with the Bobcats and owns a 21-12 record as a starting quarterback. The Bobcats have averaged a staggering 36.8 points per game with Rourke starting under center, which ranks behind only Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (23 starts, 46.3 pgg), Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (21 starts, 45.4 pgg), UCF's McKenzie Milton (33 starts; 40.6 ppg), Oregon's Justin Herbert (37 starts; 38.2 ppg) and Utah State's Jordan Love (28 starts, 37.6 ppg) among Football Bowl Subdivision signal callers who have made a minimum of 20 starts.
• Rourke is ranked first in program history with a career passing efficiency rating of 142.4, second with 462 completions, 6,513 passing yards, 186.1 passing yards per game and 51 career passing touchdowns, fourth with a career completion percentage of 57.8 percent (462-of-799) and fifth with 14.1 career yards per completion. He has also tallied 46 career rushing touchdowns, which ranks as the second-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 99 career touchdowns. He ranks third in program history with 48 career touchdowns scored and fifth with 288 career points scored. Two more touchdowns will give him the school record, passing Kalvin McRae (49, 2004-07) and Kareem Wilson (49, 1995-98) 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 nine games in 2019, Rourke ranks ninth in the MAC in rushing yards (625) and tied for second in rushing touchdowns (10), both of which lead Ohio. He's ranked fifth in the league with 1,876 passing yards. His 2,501 yards of total offense rank second in the MAC while his 11 touchdowns scored are tied for third.
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 44 of the 48 career games he has played in, Hagan has compiled 292 career total tackles (179 solo, 113 assisted), with 9.0 career tackles for loss, has accounted for 31 career passes defensed (ninth-most in program history), has tallied six career interceptions for 132 career interception return yards, has notched 25 career pass breakups (tied for eighth-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 nine games in 2019, Hagan has compiled a team-high 76 total tackles (team-high 34 solo) with three tackles for loss, one sack and a team-high six pass breakups.
• Louie Zervos is back for his redshirt senior season as placekicker. He ranks first in program history with 195 career extra points made and has made his last 103, second with 66 career field goals made and second with 393 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 (41.4 yards) and career punts (209). He also ranks third in program history in career punting yards (8,653).
• 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. WESTERN MICHIGAN
Dating back to 1939, Ohio is 29-33-1 against Western Michigan, including 2-4 in the Frank Solich era. The Bobcats are 1-1 at home against the Broncos under Solich, earning 27-20 victory on Oct. 7, 2006, but dropping a 49-14 decision in Western Michigan's last trip to Athens on Oct. 17, 2015.
Ohio and Western Michigan are set to square off for the second year in a row. Last season, the Bobcats dominated the Broncos in Kalamazoo, Mich.,, 59-14, on Nov. 1, 2018 at Waldo Stadium. Then-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. The victory marked Ohio's first over Western Michigan since the 2006 triumph. The Bobcats earned their first win in Kalamazoo since a 37-35 victory on Sept. 26, 1998. Ohio scored 45 first-half points en route to the victory – the most scored in one half during 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.
SCOUTING WESTERN MICHIGAN
• Tim Lester is in his third season as the 16th head coach at Western Michigan after being appointed to the position on Jan. 13, 2017. The RedHawks have gone 19-16 under his watch.
• The Broncos were predicted to finish second in the West Division in the MAC Media Preseason Poll. Western Michigan went 7-6 in 2018, including a 5-3 mark in conference play, and made an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
• Western Michigan enters Tuesday's game having won back-to-back home games, most recently knocking off West Division rival Ball State, 35-31, last Tuesday (Nov. 5), to establish a hold on first place in the division.
• The Broncos are 0-4 in games played away from Kalamazoo so far in 2019.
• Western Michigan boasts the league's top offense, leading the MAC in scoring (35.9 points per game) and total offense (466.2 yards per game). The Broncos rank third in the leauge in rushing (223.4 yards per game) and fourth in passing (242.8 yards per game). Defensively, Western Michigan is second in the league with 26.3 points allowed per game.
• 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.
• Senior running back Levante Bellamy leads the MAC with 1,212 rushing yards (121.2 per game) and 20 rushing touchdowns.
• Senior quarterback Jon Wassink is the MAC's leading passer with 2,397 yards through the air. He is tied for second in the league with 16 passing touchdowns.
• Senior tight end Giovanni Ricci ranks second in the conference with 584 receiving yards and is tied for the MAC lead with six receiving touchdowns.
• On the defensive side of the ball, junior Treshaun Hayward leads Western Michigan and ranks second in the MAC with 115 total tackles (league-high 57 solo) and is tied with junior defensive end Ali Fayad for the team lead with 9.5 tackles for loss. Fayad has registered a team-high 5.5 sacks (tied for second in the MAC) while Hayward is right behind him with five. Fayad has also forced a team-high three fumbles. Four Broncos have logged multiple interceptions this season, with sophomore cornerback Patrick Lupro leading the way with three.
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 and was promoted to the active roster on Nov. 7.
Former quarterback Tyler Tettleton (2009-13) is beginning his first season as the offensive quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2019.
Ohio begins a two-game road trip to close the 2019 regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 19 when it visits Doyt Perry Stadium to battle MAC East Division rival Bowling Green. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the contest will be nationally televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.