Nathan Rourke (12) prepares to throw the ball downfield during the Bobcats’ 66-24 win over Bowling Green on November 19, 2019. PHOTO: Taylor Jedrzejek/WOUB

Ohio Football: ‘Cats Look for Bowl Eligibility at Akron

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The 2019 season has been a roller coaster ride for Ohio.

After starting the season with a 1-3 record in non-conference play, the Bobcats rebounded in the first half of MAC play, posting a 3-1 conference record after wins against Buffalo, Kent State and Ball State.

Two home losses to Miami and Western Michigan eliminated the Bobcats from winning the MAC East Division.

After a lopsided victory at Bowling Green, Ohio (5-6, 4-3 MAC) closes its regular season with a trip to face Akron (0-11, 0-7 MAC) for a chance to become bowl eligible for the 11th straight season.

“Last game of the year, what we tell our guys is that this is the opportunity to get ourselves at .500 and to not have a losing season,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said.  “If we get the chance to get to a bowl game, we’re going to work at winning that and try to get ourselves to a winning season.  There are a lot of things out there for us in terms of striving to get this win.”

After finishing with a 4-8 record last season and being picked to finish fifth in the MAC East this season, Akron is winless under first-year head coach Tom Arth.

The Zips have struggled all season offensively as they are ranked 12th in the MAC in total offense and scoring offense.

Quarterback Kato Nelson has completed 150 of his 266 passing attempts for 1,810 yards.  He has thrown 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Zips’ leading rusher is sophomore Brandon Lee with 179 rushing yards.

Akron’s defense has seen success in portions of the season as it is ranked 4th in the MAC, allowing just under 400 yards per game.

“(Akron’s) able to do quite a bit on the defensive side of it, in terms of their looks, blitzes and different coverages that they use,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said.  “They’ll come up with a couple things that they’ll really zero in on for our game, probably that we haven’t been able to see very much of and practice very much of.”

The Zips are coming off a game where they only lost to Miami, the MAC East champions, by three points, 20-17.  Even though the Akron only had 202 yards of total offense, the Zips held Miami to 20 points and 355 yards on offense.

Ohio is coming off its best offensive performance of the season at Bowling Green, posting a season high 609 yards on offense and scoring 66 points.  Seven different Bobcats found the end zone, including three touchdowns from O’Shaan Allison.

The Bobcats will be down a backup quarterback on Tuesday.  Kurtis Rourke had a pre-scheduled operation on his non-throwing shoulder last week.  The injury is not related to the game against Bowling Green.  Joe Mischler will be the second string quarterback behind Nathan Rourke.

Kickoff for the game between Ohio and Akron is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday from InfoCision Stadium.