Editor’s note: As Ohio prepares to open fall camp, sports editor Matt Parker will examine each month of the Bobcats’ schedule.
The last month of Ohio’s schedule brings redemption and continuation. Redemption against its rival, and continuation in dominant performances from a season ago.
November also brings back the beloved midweek games, which have proven to be tricky for even the best teams in the Mid-American Conference to navigate.
Here’s a closer look at the Bobcats’ November:
Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 6, 7:30 OR 8 p.m., ESPN 2)
The Bobcats couldn’t ask for a more storybook start to their November than by having arch-rival Miami make the three-hour trek to Peden Stadium.
Ohio’s 30-28 loss last season was the eventual dagger that kept it out of the MAC Championship game. Even though the Bobcats outscored the RedHawks 21-2 in the second half, they were unable to turn around a sour first half that featured four punts and a turnover.
On top of looking to bounce back in the 96th version of the “Battle of the Bricks,” it’s the first midweek game for Ohio and the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of college football. Ohio’s first November game will be the only NCAA Division I game played on the the day of the anniversary, so there should be national attention surrounding Athens that night.
The RedHawks will likely bring a a suspect offense and a solid defense, similar trends as last year’s team, when it faces Ohio. Miami’s biggest question, however, lies at quarterback
Gus Ragland graduated, and the quarterback room in Oxford now features a true freshman, three redshirt freshmen and two redshirt sophomores.
Between naming a new signal caller and finding its way through a tough nonconference schedule (away games against Iowa, Cincinnati and Ohio State), Miami will have its hands full once it opens conference play against Buffalo on Sept. 28.
Miami leads the all-time series by 53-40-2, and Ohio will look to notch another win in its favor come November.
Western Michigan (Nov. 12, 7:30 OR 8 p.m., ESPN2/ESPNU)
Last season, Ohio played spoilers in a 59-14 thrashing over Western Michigan in what was supposed to be one of the more marquee MAC division crossover games.
This season, the Broncos have the potential to be Ohio’s toughest MAC opponents of the season.
Quarterback Jon Wassink, whose 2018 season ended early because of injury, returns under center with 1,000-yard running back LeVante Bellamy. The top three wide receivers return, too, and a strong offensive line is back.
The importance of Wassink can’t be overstated. Before his injury in late October, Wassink had the Broncos at 6-2 behind his nearly 2,000 yards passing and 16 touchdowns.
Wassink had the Broncos in position to make a run back to the MAC Championship Game, but his injury derailed those plans. With 10 games under his belt before Western Michigan travels to Ohio, Wassink could set up quite a spectacle late in the season.
Quarterback Nathan Rourke dominated the passing attack for Ohio in last year’s game with a 12-for-14 performance and three touchdowns. A weak secondary for Western Michigan could be Ohio’s tool to get past what could be its toughest test of the year.
@ Bowling Green (Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2/ESPNU)
Ohio’s outing last season against Bowling Green sent a wave of confidence throughout the program after it defeated its MAC East foe 49-14 on homecoming. It was, perhaps, the first complete game Ohio played last season – it had nearly 600 yards total offense while only allowing just over 300 yards defensively.
Now, the Bobcats are tasked with recreating that same performance without two of their three central players in last year’s game. Former wide receivers Papi White and Andrew Meyer combined for 144 yards and three touchdowns, but both have since graduated.
The star of the game, however, is still with Ohio. Rourke had a five touchdowns against Bowling Green last season, and the inexperience in Ohio’s receiver room should be gone when mid-November rolls around.
The Falcons will look much different. New coach Scot Loeffler takes the reigns of a program that has gone from a bright spot in the MAC to a 9-27 record in the last three years.
Luckily for Loeffler, he retains some of Bowling Green’s best talent from last season including running back Andrew Clair and wide receiver Quintin Morris.
The Falcons biggest question comes at the quarterback position. Jarret Doege, last year’s starter, transferred to West Virginia in the spring, and the quarterback depth stumbled more after redshirt freshman Bryce Veasley entered into the transfer portal. Redshirt junior Grant Loy and Darius Wade, a transfer from Delaware, are still with the Falcons, and the team is awaiting the eligibility status of incoming transfer quarterback Matt McDonald.
With big questions offensively, the Falcons also have to deal with their lingering defense, a nonconference schedule that features road trips to Kansas State and Notre Dame and a tough November schedule.
@ Akron (Nov. 26, 7 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN+)
Ohio’s last game of the season is a road trip to Akron the Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving.
The Bobcats have experienced success in the Rubber City and have won four out of the last five contests by an average of two touchdowns.
In last year’s contest, a 49-28 Ohio victory, the Bobcats’ ground game was unstoppable as they ran for over 350 yards and six touchdowns while Rourke penetrated Akron’s defense with four of those rushing touchdowns and 86 rushing yards.
The Bobcats’ biggest test in this game will be defensively, however, as quarterback Kato Nelson returns under center for the Zips.
Nelson went 24--for-41 with 356 yards and four touchdowns last season against the Bobcats’ defense, but if Ohio can put a grip on Nelson’s arm, it has a solid shot of ending its season on a happy note.