Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) breaks a tackle during Ohio University’s homecoming football game against Central Michigan on Saturday. (Austin Janning/WOUB)

Ohio Welcomes In Howard For Season Opener

Posted on:

< < Back to

The sweltering heat remains but summer is giving way to fall, and that means it’s time for Ohio Football.

The Bobcats are set to take on the Howard Bison this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Peden Stadium. This is the second-straight year Ohio has matched up against an FCS opponent, following last year’s 59-0 victory over Hampton.

“They played Kent State the second game, and that was a one-touchdown win for Kent State. They beat UNLV at UNLV. So, I see a team that is coming off of a season that had a lot of enthusiasm going into their conditioning program.” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said at his weekly press conference. “That will carry on into the fall camp and then the start of the season.”

That game against the Hampton Pirates was a coming out party for the odds-on favorite to win this years Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award. Nathan Rourke used that six-touchdown performance to show his skills to the coaching staff, and it went a long way towards his record-setting 2017 season. Rourke scored 39 touchdowns last year, while picking up a combined 3,115 yards on the ground and through the air.

Air Canada was a big reason the Bobcats ranked 9th nationally in scoring last season (39.1 PPG) and his return has most of Bobcat Nation thinking MAC Title or bust.

“He’s decisive, and I thought he was good at that last year, but he really knows the offense. Now, if he’s not throwing a perfect pass, it’s bothersome to him.” Solich said when asked about his starting quarterback.

Rourke has been working on accuracy all summer and he won’t be the only dynamic signal caller on the field at Peden Stadium this Saturday.

Sophomore quarterback Caylin Newton represents Howard’s best chance at pulling off a monumental upset. Newton, younger brother of NFL-star Cam Newton, was the Bison’s starter as a freshman. He played similarly to Rourke, finishing with 2,432 yards passing and another 753 yards with his legs. Pair that production with 25 total touchdowns and it’s pretty clear this team won’t roll over without a fight.

“Offensively, of course, (sophomore quarterback Caylin) Newton, who is a very good running quarterback and is developing his throwing skills,” Solich said about the Howard playmaker. “You could see it as the year went on, and he has had a year to work on that. So, I’m sure he’ll be a very good, complete quarterback.”

While many fans expect this game to quickly turn lopsided in the Bobcats favor, just ask the UNLV faithful how that complacency worked out last year. The Rebels went into their opener against the Bison as 45-point favorites and left the stadium on the wrong end of a 43-40 contest.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the last time Ohio brought home a MAC Championship, with that brings heightened expectations and even bigger goals. The road to reaching them begins this Saturday at Peden Stadium.