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Ohio cornerback Marlin Brooks gets in formation in a game against Pitt at Heinz Field on Sept. 7, 2019.

Football: Ohio vs. Marshall gameday guide

The “Battle for the Bell” is back.

Ohio will look to reclaim the golden bell, a trophy signifying its rivalry with Marshall, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the 60th meeting between the two nonconference rivals.

The Bobcats used to play the Thundering Herd each season when they were Mid-American Conference foes from 1954-1969 and 1997-2004. Marshall moved to Conference USA in 2004, but the close proximity of the teams has always ensured a loud atmosphere and the cultivation of one of the Bobcats’ best non-Miami rivalries.

For Ohio, Saturday will show if some of its miscues from its loss to Pitt last week were true weaknesses, or merely a factor of playing a Power 5 school. 

The Herd, picked to win the Conference USA East Division in the conference media poll, should give the Bobcats a true look at how they’ll fare against top teams in the MAC.

Below is a guide to gameday with how to follow along, depth charts, who has the edge and our predictions.

Following along

How to watch: The game can be watched on Stadium Facebook with Noah Coslov, Ike Ndukwe and Amina Smith on the call.

How to listen:  The game can be heard on the Ohio IMG Sports Network — Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius will be behind the mic. The broadcasts are available online through and

Depth chart



Three things to watch for

Ohio’s offensive line

The Bobcats allowed quarterback Nathan Rourke to be sacked six times last week. Pitt received praise from coach Frank Solich for how it disguised blitzes and aggressively attacked Ohio’s backfield, and the offensive line needs to rebound against Marshall. If it doesn’t, it could spell trouble for how effective the Bobcats will be on offense the rest of the season.

“We’ve got a good offensive line,” Solich said. “Working together is a big part of having a good offensive line, and I think we’re getting better and better at that as days go on. I expect that we’ll play very well up front.”

The running backs

Ohio’s starting running back committee has temporarily narrowed to two players after Julian Ross was injured last week and won’t play Saturday. O’Shaan Allison and De’Montre Tuggle will split the carries, and Ja’Vahri Portis could see snaps, too. Tuggle leads the pack with three touchdowns, but Allison will likely receive the bulk of the carries.

The Herd have allowed an average of 134 rushing yards per game, so the Bobcats will face a stiff but important test in their running game.

The crowd

Solich expects the crowd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium to be louder than the crowd of over 40,000 fans at Heinz Field last Saturday. The “Battle for the Bell” has typically drawn strong crowds — there were 24,000 fans packed at Peden Stadium in the last meeting in 2015 — and Solich expects that again Saturday.

Why would it be a factor? Ohio is young, and most of its players haven’t played in front of the atmosphere they’ll likely have against Marshall. It might mean nothing, but if the game is close in the fourth quarter, the Herd will have an advantage.

“You just can’t let fans take you out of the ballgame,” Solich said. “It’ll be a tough atmosphere. That’s what college football is all about. You’ve gotta be ready to go.”

The edge

When Ohio has the ball: Rourke and the Bobcats’ offense were held to just 10 points on 212 total yards last week at Pitt. Another road trip against a formidable defense might give Ohio struggles early, but between Rourke’s ability to bounce back and the duo of running backs Allison and Tuggle, its downfield-running based offense might be too much for Marshall’s speed.   

Edge: Ohio 

When Marshall has the ball: The Herd — much like their defense — play with plenty of speed. Redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green commands the Marshall offense with a balanced attack, and it was held to seven points and 172 total yards last week at No. 22 Boise State. The Bobcats defense, however, is still looking for its first shutdown game, and that may come against the Herd. Ohio, who has forced just one turnover this season, will look to add to Marshall’s four turnovers this season.

Edge: Ohio 

Special teams: As long as Ohio has Louie Zervos and Michael Farkas are healthy, the special teams battle is the Bobcats’ to lose. The Herd have yet to attempt a field goal this season. Zervos, however, is 3-for-3 and hit a 58-yarder inside Walter Fieldhouse at practice Thursday.

Edge: Ohio 

Reading guide


Sports Editor Anthony Poisal: Rourke has a history of bouncing back after tough games. Last season, he was benched in the season opener. Then, he helped Ohio score 31 points against Virginia in the next game. He’ll bounce back again with two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown against the Herd. Ohio wins 27-14.

Sports Editor Matt Parker: A rivalry game might be what Ohio needs to get itself back to how it traditionally plays. There’s plenty for the Bobcats to feel confident in as they go to Huntington, West Virginia, especially on the defensive end. Ohio has the poise at key positions to handle the challenges that are typical in a road game too. Expect a solid bounce-back performance from the Bobcats. Ohio wins 31-17.

The Post’s guest pickers this week are an NBC4 Columbus news anchor Matt Barnes and sports director Jerod Smalley. The two are Ohio and Marshall alumni, respectively, and have placed bets against each other — the loser typically has to do or say something funny on a live broadcast — since 2010 each time the two teams play. Barnes leads the series 4-2. Here are their predictions.

News anchor Matt Barnes: I think both teams are really good defensively. I think Ohio’s offense will show up, unlike last week. I don’t buy into the home advantage too much. There will be a decent amount of Bobcats fans there, and hopefully that’ll give them a little push. I have faith in Rourke and that offense. Ohio wins 31-24.

Sports director Jerod Smalley: I think it’s going to be a phenomenal game. I think they both were disappointed last week, and the question is which offense will show back up this week? The home field is going to be a nice advantage for Marshall. They’ll feed off that a little bit, but I think it’s going to be crazy close. Marshall wins 24-21.



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