ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (1-0) takes to the road for the first time in the 2019 season, making a trip to the Steel City to take on Pitt (0-1) on Saturday (Sept. 7). Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. ET at Heinz Field.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on the ACC Network, with Clay Matvick, John Congemi and Dr. Jerry Punch on the call.
Saturday'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.
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 | Ohio Bobcats (1-0) at Pitt Panthers (1-1) | 11 a.m. EST | Heinz Field | Pittsburgh | ACC Network | Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College | TuneIn | Live Stats
• Ohio opened up the 2019 seaon with a 41-20 victory over Rhode Island last Saturday (Aug. 31) at Peden Stadium as the Bobcats earned a school-record 10th-straight home victory. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score while redshirt junior running back De'Montre Tuggle put together a breakout performance in his first game as a Bobcat, rumbling for 65 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries -- including a 55-yard scamper in the third quarter. After suffering a knee injury that ended his 2018 season after three games, redshirt junior Tyler Tupa led the way against the Rams with a team-high 49 receiving yards. Both he and redshirt junior tight end Ryan Luehrman hauled in their first career touchdown receptions.
• Redshirt junior linebacker Jared Dorsa has been named the Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week for week one of the 2019 season, as announced by the conference office on Monday (Sept. 2). Dorsa was recognized with weekly conference honors for the first time in his career after he accumulated seven total tackles (five solo, two assisted) to tie for the team lead in the win over Rhode Island, including a half a sack, and registered a quarterback hurry.
• Since the 2012 season, the Bobcats have recorded three wins over Power Five conference schools. Ohio upset Penn State, 24-14, on Sept. 1, 2012 and beat Kansas in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and '17, picking up a road win over the Jayhawks, 37-21, on Sept. 10, 2016, then topping Kansas at home, 42-30, on Sept. 16, 2017.
• Ohio is coming off of a 2018 season in which it went 9-4 (6-2 MAC), finishing in a tie for second with Miami in the Mid-American Conference's East Division. The Bobcats earned at least nine wins for the sixth time in 15 years under head coach Frank Solich. Ohio capped off the year by shutting out San Diego State, 27-0, in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas. The Bobcats accounted for the MAC's lone bowl win in 2018 and earned the distinction of being the conference's first team to pitch a shutout in a bowl win.
• Ohio was voted as the preseason favorite to win the MAC. The Bobcats were selected as the unanimous favorite to win the East Division in both the media and coaches polls. The Bobcats earned a league-high 13 votes to win the MAC Championship Game in the media poll.
• 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 its last 10 home games dating back to the 2017 season, which is a school record, and has won 15 of its last 16 games played at Peden Stadium.
• Ohio is tied with Toledo for the most bowl wins (4) among MAC programs since Frank Solich took over as head coach in 2005. With its win over San Diego State in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl that followed a 41-6 triumph over UAB in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, Ohio recorded back-to-back bowl wins for the second time in program history. In 2011, the Bobcats edged Utah State, 24-23, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to pick up their first bowl victory in program history, then rolled to a 45-14 triumph over ULM in the 2012 Advocare V100 Independence Bowl.
LIKE A FINE WINE
Frank Solich enters the 2019 season as the dean of MAC head coaches as he begins his 15th year leading the Bobcats. He is tied with Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy for fourth among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) 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 only North Carolina's Mack Brown (30 years) and Alabama's Nick Saban.
With the retirement of longtime Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder following the 2018 season, Solich enters the 2019 campaign as the leader in life experience among NCAA FBS head coaches at 74 years old.
CHASING WINS WITH THE GOAT
Frank Solich owns a career coaching record of 165-94 heading into the 2019 season. His 165 wins rank as the fourth most among active NCAA FBS head coaches, trailing only North Carolina's Mack Brown (239), Alabama's Nick Saban (239) and TCU's Gary Patterson (168).
Solich is 107-75 during his tenure as head coach of the Bobcats, ranking him third in program history behind Don Peden (121; 1924-46) and Bill Hess (108; 1958-77). With four more wins, Solich will pass Herb Deromedi (110, Central Michigan, 1978-93) for the most by a MAC head coach. Ohio has gone 70-42 in conference play since Solich's arrival in Athens. His 70 MAC wins rank second to Deromedi's 90.
Solich's first win as Ohio's head coach came on Sept. 9, 2005 -- a 16-10 triumph in overtime over Pittsburgh in the first nationally televised game from Peden Stadium. Both of Ohio's touchdowns came off interception returns by cornerback Dion Byrum, with the second going for 85 yards the other way in overtime to give the Bobcats the victory over the Panthers.
MORE POSTGAME NOTES FROM RHODE ISLAND
• The Bobcats improved to 10-5 in season openers under 15th-year head coach Frank Solich.
• Ohio scored on all seven of its drives with senior quarterback Nathan Rourke under center and went a perfect 5-for-5 in red zone opportunities.
• After throwing for two touchdowns and running for another, senior quarterback Nathan Rourke has now been responsible for 80 touchdowns in his Ohio career, which ranks as the second-most in program history. He needs three more to overtake former quarterback Tyler Tettleton (82; 2009-13) for the most in program history.
• On its first offensive drive of the season, Ohio marched 94 yards in 13 plays and 6:38, culminating in a five-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Nathan Rourke. In 2018, Ohio had three scoring drives of at least 90 yards.
• Nine different receivers caught passes, the most since nine tallied receptions in a 58-50 win at UMass on Sept. 30, 2017. Redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Tupa and redshirt freshmen wide receivers Shane Hooks and Ty Walton all recorded their first career receptions.
• Redshirt freshman O'Shaan Allison made his first career start at running back, redshirt senior Marques Grimes made his first career start at right tackle, senior Cole Baker made his first career start at defensive tackle and redshirt senior Brian Arp made his first career start at nose tackle.
• On the defensive side of the Ball, senior linebacker Eric Popp (7) and redshirt junior linebacker Dylan Conner (7) set career highs in total tackles. Junior cornerback Jamal Hudson registered his first career sack.
• Ohio did not punt in the win over Rhode Island. The last time the Bobcats went an entire game without punting was Sept. 17, 2011, in a 44-7 win over Marshall.
• Air Canada is back for his senior season. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke, a two-time All-MAC Second Team selection, has played in 27 games with 25 starts over the last three seasons with the Bobcats and owns a 18-7 record as a starting quarterback. The Bobcats have averaged a staggering 39.6 points per game with Rourke starting under center, which ranks behind only Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (16 starts, 45.4 pgg), Utah State's Jordan Love (20 starts, 41.8 ppg) and UCF's McKenzie Milton (33 starts; 40.6 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 145.4 and 188.0 career passing yards per game, second with 42 career passing touchdowns, fourth with 4,825 career passing yards, fourth with a career completion percentage of 58.0 percent (341-of-558), fifth with 14.1 career yards per completion and fifth with 341 career completions. He has also tallied 37 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 80 career touchdowns -- the second-most in program history and the third-most in NCAA FBS over the last two-plus seasons. He ranks third in program history with 38 career touchdowns scored and sixth with 228 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.
The Ohio defense ranked first in the country in turnovers gained with 32 in 2018. When a Bobcat came away with a turnover, they were awarded the Turnover Belt, a WWE Championship-style belt for their efforts.
The Turnover Belt emerged for the first time in 2019 when junior cornerback Marlin Brooks picked off a pass in the end zone last Saturday to seal the victory over Rhode Island -- his second career interception.
• Louie Zervos is back for his redshirt senior season as placekicker. He ranks first in program history with 169 career extra points made and has made his last 77, second with 59 career field goals made and second with 346 career points scored. In last Saturday's 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.
CROMER ERA BEGINS FOR OHIO ATHLETICS
Last Saturday's game 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.
Ohio will be joining the MAC, the NCAA and ESPN in celebrating the 150th anniversary of college football in 2019. The campaign will culminate when Ohio takes on archrival Miami in the 'Battle of the Bricks' on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at Peden Stadium in a nationally televised matchup on ESPN2 that will be 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.
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.
• The Panthers went 7-7 overall a year -- including a 6-2 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play, giving the Panthers the league's Coastal Division title. The Panthers suffered a 42-10 setback in the ACC Championship Game, then dropped a 14-13 decision to Stanford in the Sun Bowl.
• Pat Narduzzi is in his fifth year as the head coach at Pitt. The Panthers have gone 28-25 under his watch.
• Pitt fell to ACC Coastal Division rival Virginia, 30-14, last Saturday at Heinz Field in its 2019 season opener. The Panthers held a 14-13 advantage at halftime but were outscored by the Cavaliers 17-0 in the second half.
•Junior quarterback Kenny Pickett, who started all 14 games for the Panthers last season, finished 21-of-41 with 185 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception in the loss to Virginia. Senior wide receiver Tre Tipton hauled in the scoring strike late in the first half.
• The Panthers managed just 78 rushing yards against the Cavaliers. Junior running back A.J. Davis gained a team-high 25 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown.
• Pitt was led defensively by senior free safety Damar Hamlin against Virginia, who recorded a team-high seven solo stops. Sophomore free safety Paris Ford and Star linebacker Phil Campbell III each forced fumbles. Sophomore defensive end Deslin Alexandre recorded a sack.
• Ohio is 1-5 all-time against Pitt in a series that dates back to 1910. The Bobcats' lone victory over the Panthers came in 2005. Ohio last visited Heinz Field on Sept. 11, 2004 -- a 24-3 loss to Pitt.
Ohio is set to play an ACC team for the second year in a row. The Bobcats fell to Virginia, 45-31, on Sept. 15, 2018, in a contest that was moved from Charlottesville to Nashville due to Hurricane Florence.
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 entering his sixth year in the league and his second as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Outside linebacker Tarell Basham (2013-16) begins his third season in the NFL and his second as a member of the New York Jets. Wide receiver Papi White (2015-19) begins his first year as a member of the practice squad for the Tennessee Titans.
Former quarterback Tyler Tettleton (2009-13) is beginning his first season as the offensive quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2019.
Ohio faces another road test in the week three of the 2019 season, paying a visit to Huntington, W. Va., to renew the its "Battle for the Bell" rivalry with Marshall. The Bobcats and the Thundering Herd will square off on Saturday, Sept. 14, in a 6:30 p.m. ET matchup at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The contest will be streamed live on Facebook. Ohio and Marshall will be squaring off for the first time since Sept. 12, 2015 -- a 21-10 win for Ohio. Ohio last visited Huntington on Sept. 13, 2014. The Bobcats lead the all-time series with Marshall, 33-20-6.