Huskie Stadium – DeKalb, Illinois
The Ohio University Bob’Cats and Northern Illinois Huskies entered 2018 as preseason favorites to win their respective divisions in the Mid-American Conference.
Whether or not they will battle in Detroit for a MAC Championship Game remains to be seen, but the two teams meet this Saturday as possibly a preview any second encounter.
Ohio comes into Saturday after winning its MAC opener last week at Kent State. The Bob’Cats scored their winning touchdown with 1:28 remaining and returned to Athens with a 27-26 win in hand.
NIU was also on the road, grabbing an early lead and going on to claim a 24-16 win at Ball State.
Saturday‘s game is the 22nd all-time meeting between the two schools, with the Bob’Cats holding a slim 11-10 edge. The last game in the series was on November 24, 2015 (also in DeKalb), with Ohio winning 26-21.
OHIO BOBCATS (3-2, 1-0 MAC)
>>>> The BobCats opened their MAC schedule last Saturday at Kent State. Ohio trailed the Golden Flashes from the opening play from scrimmage. But chipped away at their deficit before winning 26-21 with 1:28 remaining when sophomore QB Nathan Rourke scored on an eight-yard, twisting run for the crucial score.
>>>> The win was the ‘Cats second straight after as OU downed Massachusetts the previous week 52-38. Saturday was also Ohio’s eighth consecutive MAC opener win.
>>>> Head Coach Frank Solich is in his 14th season in Athens. He has an overall record of 158-92, 100-73 at Ohio (63-39 in MAC play)
>>>> The victory over KSU made Solich the third coach in Ohio football history with 100 wins at the school (Don Peden-121 and Bill Hess-108 were the others)
>>>> In their first five games, the offense is averaging 36.8 points and 455.4 yards (second and fourth. Respectively. in the MAC).
>>>> Rourke is the leader of the offense. So far this season, he has completed 59.8 percent of his passes (70-of-117) for 1,025 yards and seven touchdowns, with only three interceptions.
>>>> In addition, Rourke is the leading rusher on the squad with 391 yards on 50 carries (7.8 yards).
>>>> Rourke was named MAC East Player of the Week as he completed 18-of-20 passes (setting a new single game school record of 90 percent) for 284 yards and a touchdown. He also gained 49 yards on the ground.
>>>> Junior Papi White leads the receivers with 27 catches for 481 yards and four touchdowns.
>>>> The offensive line has allowed just eight sacks in the first five games
>>>> The Ohio defense has allowed 38.8 points and 508.8 yards with six interceptions, five forced fumbles, 13 pass breakups and six fumble recoveries.
>>>> Senior LB Evan Croutch leads with 38 total tackles (28 solo) with an interception.
>>>> Junior DB Javon Hagan has an interception in each of the last two games (both sealed victories – one each over the Minutemen and the Golden Flashes)
>>>> PK Louie Zervos is again proving to be one of the best kickers both in the MAC and in the Football Bowl Subdivision as he leads the conference with 46 points
>>>> The ‘Cats return home to Peden Stadium next Saturday to battle Bowling Green in a homecoming tilt.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (3-2, 3-0 MAC)
>>>> The Huskies picked up their second consecutive victory last Saturday as they defeated the Ball State Cardinals in Muncie 26-14. It was a game that NIU led from the first score.
>>>> With their victory, the Huskies improved to 3-0 in MAC play and lead the Western Division. They are the only team in the conference with three wins.
>>>> Head Coach Ron Carey is in his sixth full season and has a record of 47-27 overall.
>>>> The Huskies offense is averaging only 17.7 points and 282.8 yards on the season (Both are second fewest in the MAC).
>>>> Sophomore QB Marcus Childers has completed 55.8 percent of his passes (101-of-181) for 804 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
>>>> Another soph, RB Tre Harbison, leads the ground attack with 419 yards and three touchdowns.
>>>> In the victory over BSU, RB Marcus Jones rushed for 130 yards on 12 carries his first career 100-yard rushing game.
>>>> Senior WR D.J. Brown has 32 receptions for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
>>>> The offensive line has allowed 16 sacks through the first five games.
>>>> The NIU defense has allowed 25.7 points and 356.5 yards per game. Northern leads the MAC with 18 sacks. Add that to three interceptions, eight forced fumbles, 19 pass breakups, and eight fumble recoveries
>>>> Junior LB Antonio-Jones Davis leads with 66 total tackles (37 solo) and five pass breakups. He had 16 total stops last Saturday against BSU
>>>> Senior Sutton Smith, the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year, has 24 total tackles so far in 2018, but he leads the team with five sacks. He also has forced two fumbles and blocked a kick
>>> NIU will have the week off next Saturday before finishing their non-conference schedule with a trip to BYU on October 27th against the Cougars.