Big expectations in 2019


Bobcats, Herd early favorites in respective conferences

By Bryan Walters - bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com



Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) receives a helping hand from teammate Connor Brown (83) after scoring a second quarter touchdown against Cincinnati during a Sept. 22, 2018, non-conference game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) receives a helping hand from teammate Connor Brown (83) after scoring a second quarter touchdown against Cincinnati during a Sept. 22, 2018, non-conference game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall head football coach Doc Holliday paces the sideline during a Sept. 8, 2018, non-conference game against Eastern Kentucky at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va.


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

At least by preseason standards, there is no better time than now for this bitter rivalry to renew.

Both the Ohio Bobcats and Marshall Thundering Herd have been voted as early favorites to win their respective conference championships, making this year’s Battle for the Bell matchup a bit more interesting when the two gridiron combatants face-off at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The Bobcats own a 33-20-6 overall advantage in the head-to-head series, including a 21-10 victory in the last contest played between these programs back on Sept. 12, 2015.

It will also be one of the many highlights on each program’s football schedule for 2019, although there are plenty of tough matchups awaiting the squads this fall.

This is a brief look at what both the Bobcats and the Thundering Herd will be going up against when they take the field this year.

OHIO BOBCATS

Following a 9-4 overall campaign that included a 27-0 victory over San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl, Ohio will be aiming to improve on its second place finish (6-2) within Mid-American Conference East Division play.

The Bobcats received all 24 first-place votes in the MAC East preseason poll and also garnered 13 of the 24 picks to win the MAC Championship game at the annual preseason meeting.

Toledo was chosen as the preseason MAC West champion and was the first team behind Ohio to win the MAC Championship game, receiving seven votes.

The Bobcats open the season at Peden Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 31, as they host the Rhode Island Rams. Ohio follows a week later by making its first road trip of the year when they go to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Sept. 7.

Ohio next heads to Marshall on Sept. 14, then closes out its non-conference schedule on Sept. 21 when it welcomes the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette.

After a bye week at the end of September, the Bobcats will begin MAC play on Oct. 5 when they travel to Buffalo before coming home for back-to-back home bouts against Northern Illinois and Kent State on Oct. 12 and Oct. 19, respectively.

Ohio closes out its October schedule — and its final Saturday game of the season — on the 26th at Ball State.

The Bobcats entertain Miami (OH) at Peden Stadium on Wednesday, Oct. 6, as part of the 150th Anniversary of College Football Celebration, then wrap up their home schedule six days later when Western Michigan comes to Athens.

Ohio’s final two games are pair of Tuesday night road affairs at Bowling Green (Nov. 19) and at Akron (Nov. 26).

The Bobcats lost league games to both Northern Illinois (24-21) and Miami of Ohio (30-28) a year ago, as well as suffering non-conference defeats to Virginia (45-31) and Cincinnati (34-30). All four losses came away from Peden Stadium.

Ohio will be aiming for its 10th bowl appearance in 11 years, as well its first MAC Championship since winning back-to-back crowns in 1967 and 1968. The Bobcats last won the MAC East crown in 2016.

MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD

Following a 9-4 overall campaign that included a 38-20 victory over South Florida in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, Marshall will be aiming to improve on its second place finish (6-2) within Conference USA East Division play.

The Herd received 14 of the 26 first-place votes in the CUSA East preseason poll, with Florida International and Florida Atlantic also getting nine and three first-place votes respectively in the CUSA East Division.

North Texas received 20 of the 26 first-place votes in the CUSA West Division preseason poll, with Southern Miss (4) and Alabama-Birmingham (2) also garnering some first-place selections.

The Thundering Herd open the season at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 31, as they host Virginia Military Institute. MU follows six days later by making its first road trip of the year when they go to Boise State on Friday, Sept. 6.

Marshall returns home to host Ohio on Sept. 14, then enjoys a bye week before hosting Cincinnati in its final non-conference contest on Sept. 28.

The Herd begins Conference USA play at Middle Tennessee State on Oct. 5 and comes home a week later to face Old Dominion on Oct. 12.

Marshall turns around and travels to Florida Atlantic on Friday, Oct. 18, before ending its October schedule with a home game against Western Kentucky on Oct. 26.

MU travels to Rice on Nov. 2, then enjoys another bye week before hosting Louisiana Tech on Friday, Nov. 15. Marshall’s final two games are on Saturday as the Herd travels to Charlotte on Nov. 23 before closing out the home schedule against Florida International on Nov. 30.

The Herd lost league games to both Middle Tennessee State (34-24) and Southern Mississippi (26-24) a year ago, as well as suffering non-conference defeats to North Carolina State (37-20) and Virginia Tech (41-20). Three of the four losses — minus Southern Miss — came at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Marshall will be aiming for its eighth bowl appearance in 11 years, as well its first CUSA Championship since winning the crown back in 2014. The Herd also last won the CUSA East crown in 2014.

The college football regular season begins roughly five weeks from this weekend.

Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) receives a helping hand from teammate Connor Brown (83) after scoring a second quarter touchdown against Cincinnati during a Sept. 22, 2018, non-conference game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2019/07/web1_OU-Wide.jpgOhio quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) receives a helping hand from teammate Connor Brown (83) after scoring a second quarter touchdown against Cincinnati during a Sept. 22, 2018, non-conference game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall head football coach Doc Holliday paces the sideline during a Sept. 8, 2018, non-conference game against Eastern Kentucky at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2019/07/web1_MU-Tall.jpgMarshall head football coach Doc Holliday paces the sideline during a Sept. 8, 2018, non-conference game against Eastern Kentucky at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va. Bryan Walters|OVP Sports
Bobcats, Herd early favorites in respective conferences

By Bryan Walters

bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.