Published Sat, Sep 17, 2011 4:22 pm Dateline
It's the Battle for the Bell at Peden Stadium, and outside the rivalry with Miami, this may end up being the biggest game of the season for Ohio football. Marshall has owned the rivalry lately. Here are some keys to Saturday's game.
Ohio vs. Marshall
The emotions will obviously be flying high in the 55th Battle for the Bell. Marshall has beaten Ohio 12 of the last 14 times (the Bobcats haven’t beat the Thundering Herd since 2000) including two wins in the 2009 season. Bobcat players have had this game circled on their schedule and Peden should be electric Saturday night, but emotion alone will not win games. Execution factors in to every game, so here are some keys to victory for Ohio in this upcoming Battle for the Bell.
Both Marshall and Ohio have shut down their opponent’s rushing offenses so far in the early 2011 season. Ohio has allowed less than 2 yards per carry (1.7) on 65 carries, highlighted by a smothering performance against New Mexico State in which the Aggies gained only six yards on the ground. The Thundering Herd has not seen a stampede yet this season either. In the rain shortened season-opener, Marshall held limited West Virginia to 42 yards on 26 carries and has surrendered just 117 yards on 54 attempts through two games.
The breaking point in this game could be the Bobcats’ running offense versus the ‘Herd’s rush defense. Ohio has rushed 90 times for 515 yards in its first two games, good for a 5.7 yards per carry average. Donte Harden has led the rushing attack in Ohio’s first two games with an 82 yard performance against NMSU and 94 yards coming in the win over Gardner-Webb last week. If Ohio can gash Marshall for some yards on the ground the Thundering Herd will find itself in an unfamiliar place and the Bobcats might put Marshall’s D on its heels. If that happens, advantage--Ohio.
Test the Freshman
Marshall trots in true-freshman Rakeem Cato at starting quarterback. Cato hasn’t looked like a true-freshman in his two starts. He has completed almost 67% of his passes for 390 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. As impressive as he may have looked through two games, the Ohio defense looks to ground Cato.
“You definitely have to throw some curveballs at him,” Gerald Moore, Ohio Safety said, “just see how composed he is in the pocket… have everybody coming at him from different angles, that's how you fluster any quarterback. So, we definitely want to get after him this week.”
The Ohio defensive line has provided a solid push up front so far this season and will look to do the same against Marshall. With a young starter under center for the ‘Herd, the front four will have its eyes locked on Cato.
“He's a freshman quarterback,” Ohio defensive lineman Tremayne Scott said, “and we're going to try and get after him.”
This may turn out to be the most crowded game in Peden’s history. Ohio players have sat with a bad taste in their mouths from last year’s 24-23 loss. The stadium should be rocking, and may resemble the Ohio-Pittsburgh game from 2005.
Listeners in Ironton and Cambridge can hear the broadcast on 89.1 FM, those in Zanesville can tune into 90.1 FM, and if you are in Chillicothe dial in to 91.9 FM. Kick off is at 7 p.m. with the hour long pre game coverage beginning at 6 p.m.