Ohio Game Notes (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (5-6, 4-3 MAC) will play its 2019 regular season finale on Tuesday (Nov. 26), when it visits InfoCision Stadium to take on MAC East Division rival Akron (0-11, 0-7 MAC). Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.
Michael Reghi and Jerod Cherry will have the call on ESPN+.
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. 26, 2019 | Ohio (5-6, 4-3 MAC) at Akron (0-11, 0-7 MAC) | 6 p.m. ET | InfoCision Stadium | Akron, Ohio | ESPN+ | Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College | TuneIn | StatBroadcast
Ohio can clinch bowl eligibility for the 11th year in a row and 13th time under 15th-year head coach Frank Solich with a win over Akron on Tuesday.
The Bobcats can post a winning conference record for the fifth year in a row with a victory over the Zips on Tuesday.
MAC WINS KING
With Ohio's 66-24 dismantling of MAC East Division rival Bowling Green last Tuesday (Nov. 19), Frank Solich etched his place in MAC history by becoming the conference's winningest head coach with his 111th victory. Solich surpassed former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi (110 wins; 1978-93) as the conference's wins leader.
Solich has turned the Bobcats into one of the MAC's premier programs since his arrival in Athens in 2005. The Bobcats are 111-81 during the Solich era. His 111 victories are the second-most in program history behind behind Don Peden (121; 1924-46). Ohio has gone 74-45 in conference play since Solich's arrival in Athens. His 74 MAC wins rank second to Deromedi's 90.
Solich entered the 2019 season as the dean of MAC head coaches. He is tied with Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy for fouth among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches in terms of longest tenure with their current school. Only Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (21 years), TCU's Gary Patterson (20 years) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (16 years) have served as head coach at their respective institutions longer. Prior to arriving in Athens, Solich spent six years as head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. Solich's 21 years of experience tie him with Ferentz (21 years) for the third-most among active NCAA FBS head coaches, ranking behind North Carolina's Mack Brown (30 years) and Alabama's Nick Saban (24).
Solich owns a career coaching record of 169-100. His 169 wins rank as the fourth most among active NCAA FBS head coaches, trailing only Brown (248), Saban (241) and TCU's Gary Patterson (172). He is well-respected by his peers, having been named the president of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in addition to receiving the Tom Osborne Legacy Award in January of 2019.
LIKE A VIDEO GAME
Last Tuesday's win over Bowling Green saw the Bobcats tie for the seventh-most points in a single game in program history with 66 and marked the first time Ohio has scored at least 60 points in a game since putting up 63 in a 63-15 win over Northern Illinois in 1976.
Ohio set a season high 609 total yards in the victory over the Falcons, including a season-high 342 yards on the ground. Over the last three seasons, the Bobcats have totaled at least 500 yards of offense in a game seven times and have gone over the 600 yard mark three times. Ohio has rushed for over 300 yards in a game 10 times over the last three seasons.
Five of Ohio's season-high nine touchdowns came on plays of 45 yards or longer, with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Isiah Cox scoring on a 55-yard reception in the first quarter, redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison scoring on a 54-yard run in the first quarter and a 53-yard run in the third, redshirt freshman wide receiver Jerome Buckner scoring on a 45-yard reception in the first quarter and junior running back De'Montre Tuggle scoring on a 53-yard run in the third quarter.
WHAT A RUSH
Ohio's running game was firing on all cylinders in last Tuesday's big win over Bowling Green, led by redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison, who set career highs with 175 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Allison's first touchdown of the evening came on a career-long run of 54 yards in the first quarter, and he scored again on a 53-yard run in the third quarter. Junior running back De'Montre Tuggle's lone carry of the evening went for 53 yards and a score. Redshirt junior running back Ja'Vahri Portis carried the ball three times for a career-high 36 yards and scored Ohio's final touchdown of the night on an 11-yard run in the third quarter. The dual-threat ability of senior quarterback Nathan Rourke was on display as well, as he ran the ball eight times for 25 yards and scored on an eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Rourke also threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, completing 14 of his 21 passing attempts.
Redshirt senior placekicker Louie Zervos finished with 12 points in Tuesday's victory over Bowling Green after making a career-high nine extra points and adding a 33-yard field goal. His effort brought him to 415 points for his career, setting the new program record. The mark was previously held by former placekicker Matt Weller (2009-12), who scored 409 career points. Zervos is currently ranked 25th in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history in scoring.
Zervos ranks first in program history with 208 career extra points made and has made his last 116. He also ranks second in program history with 69 career field goals made.
FLYING HIGH WITH AIR CANADA
• Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke will be playing in his final regular season game on Tuesday at Akron, having played in 37 career games for the Bobcats and started the last 35. He owns a 22-13 record as a starting quarterback.
Rourke is ranked first in program history with a career passing efficiency rating of 144.8 and 189.3 passing yards per game, second with 496 completions, 7,005 passing yards, and 56 career passing touchdowns, fourth with a career completion percentage of 58.4 percent (496-of-849) and fifth with 14.0 career yards per completion. He has also tallied 47 career rushing touchdowns, which ranks as the second-most in program history. He has rushed for more touchdowns than any other quarterback in NCAA FBS over the last two-plus seasons and is three rushing touchdowns away from breaking the program record of 49 set by Kareem Wilson (49, 1995-98). He can become the first player in MAC history to throw for at least 50 career touchdowns and run for at least 50 career touchdowns. His 2,510 rushing yards rank 10th in program history. Rourke has been responsible for a school-record 105 career touchdowns. He ranks third in program history with 49 career touchdowns scored and fifth with 294 career points scored. One more touchdown will give him the school record, passing Kalvin McRae (49, 2004-07) and Wilson. 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 11 games in 2019, Rourke ranks 11th in the MAC in rushing yards (743) and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (11), with the latter leading the team. He's ranked fourth in the league with 2,368 passing yards. His 3,111 yards of total offense lead the MAC while his 12 touchdowns scored are tied for fourth.
TURNOVER BELT BACK IN A BIG WAY
Ohio's Turnover Belt, a a WWE Championship-style belt that is awarded to the team's defensive playmakers after creating a turnover, was back in a big way in the win over Bowling Green.
The Bobcats came away with a season-high five takeaways, including four fumble recoveries, after managing just six takeaways over the previous 10 games.
Redshirt senior safety Javon Hagan forced a fumble that was recovered by redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Coleman. Junior cornerback Marlin Brooks recovered a fumble that he forced himself. Redshirt senior defensive end Sam McKnight forced a fumble on a sack that was recovered by redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Kai Caesar. Redshirt freshman linebacker Jack McCrory recovered a fumble punt return by the Falcons. Redshirt freshman cornerback John Gregory came away with his first career interception.
The Ohio defense ranked first in the country in turnovers gained with 32 in 2018.
MOVING THE CHAINS
Ohio ranks eighth in the country and first among MAC teams with a 50.0 percent third-down conversion rate (71 of 142). The Bobcats have converted at least half of their third down attempts in five of their first seven conference game this season.
Ohio's red zone offense is tops in the MAC and 16th in the country, converting 91.5 percent (43 of 47) of its trips into points.
WE'VE GOT IT COVERED
Ohio's kickoff return defense is ranked second in the MAC and third in the country, surrendering just 14.83 yards per return.
ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONORS
Redshirt junior linebacker Dylan Conner represented the Ohio football team on the 2019 CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 Division I Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), the organization announced on Nov. 14.
The 2019 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 CoSIDA 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 CoSIDA Academic All-America® ballot. First- and second-team (if applicable) Academic All-America® honorees will be announced in early December.
The CoSIDA Academic All-District® teams are divided into geographic districts across the United States and Canada.
Conner, who is a biological sciences major, has compiled a career-high 73 total tackles in 2019, which ranks second on the team. He has registered a career-high four tackles for loss, including half a sack. Conner has started all 11 games at strongside linebacker for the Bobcats so far this season.
• 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 46 of the 50 career games he has played in, Hagan has compiled 313 career total tackles (188 solo, tied for sixth-most in program history; 125 assisted), with 9.0 career tackles for loss, has accounted for 32 career passes defensed (tied for eighth-most in program history), has tallied six career interceptions for 132 career interception return yards, has notched 26 career pass breakups (eighth-most in program history) and has forced nine 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 11 games in 2019, Hagan has compiled a career-high 97 total tackles to lead the team (team-high 43 solo) with three tackles for loss, one sack and a team-high seven pass breakups.
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. AKRON
Ohio is 20-14-1 all-time against Akron in a series that dates back to 1919. The Bobcats are 11-3 (.786) against the Zips under head coach Frank Solich but are just 4-3 in games played at Akron. Ohio's last trip to InfoCision Stadium resulted in a 37-34 setback to Akron on Nov. 14, 2017. The Bobcats' last win over the Zips in Akron came on Oct. 3, 2015 -- a 14-12 win over Ohio.
Ohio also closed the regular season with a matchup against Akron in 2018 -- a 49-28 win on Nov. 23 at Peden Stadium. The Bobcats ran for 381 yards in the win over the Zips. Then-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.
• Tom Arth was named the 28th head coach in Akron history on Dec. 14, 2018 after spending two seasons as the head coach at Chattanooga.
• The Zips were predicted to finish fifth in the East Division in the MAC Media Preseason Poll. Akron went 4-8 in 2018, including a 2-6 mark in conference play.
• Akron enters Tuesday's game in search of its first victory in 2019.
• Akron ranks 12th in the MAC in total offense (258.5 yards per game) and 12th in scoring offense (11.2 points per game). The Zips are ranked fourth in the league in total defense (396.7 yards allowed per game) but are 11th in scoring defense (34.8 points allowed per game).
• Sophomore running back Brandon Lee leads Akron with 179 rushing yards.
• Redshirt junior quarterback Kato Nelson has completed 150 of his 266 passing attempts for 1,810 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.
• Redshirt junior wide receiver Nate Stewart leads the Zips with 37 receptions, 529 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.
• Defensively, redshirt senior linebacker John Lako leads the Zips with 130 total tackles, including a team-high 60 solo stops.
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.
IRONS TO REPRESENT OHIO IN GREY CUP
Former Ohio running back Maleek Irons (2014-18) will represent Ohio in the Canadian Football League championship game on Sunday (Nov. 24) as his Hamilton Tiger-Cats take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 107th Grey Cup. In his first season as a member of the Ti-Cats, Irons has rushed for 208 yards and a touchdown in nine games.