LAFAYETTE, La. — Ohio is 0-2 this season. Its first two games have fostered doubts on how well it will fare in its remaining nonconference schedule.
Now, Ohio faces Louisiana (1-1), a team that clung to an AP Top 25 ranking in the preseason before being knocked out following a loss to then-No.21 Texas.
Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. CDT local) at Cajun Field. ESPN will televise the game.
Below is a guide to gameday with how to follow along, depth charts, what to watch for, who has the edge, a reading guide and our predictions.
How to watch: Thursday marks Ohio’s only game on ESPN — but its second on an ESPN network — this season. The game is also available online here. Matt Barrie, Roddy Jones and Harry Lyles Jr. will have 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 broadcast is available through TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats.
How to find stats: Stats are provided here.
Three things to watch for
Ohio was hampered by penalties in its loss to Duquesne. Six defensive penalties by Ohio in the second half kept Duquesne’s offense on the field longer than it should have been. Coach Tim Albin has been insistent on cutting down on what he called “foolish penalties” during his Monday press conference.”
Can Ohio get takeaways?
The Bobcats have yet to get a turnover on defense this season, a point that Albin also brought up in his Monday press conference. Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis will be one of the most dangerous players the Bobcats will go up against this season and has yet to throw an interception.
However, Louisiana has lost a fumble in each of its first two games, one of which occurred thanks to Lewis in the fourth quarter against Nicholls. With Thursday expected to bring rain to Lafayette, Ohio might be able to take advantage of a slippery ball and finally force some turnovers.
Short week, first road game
The Bobcats are playing in their first road game of the season on less than a week of rest following their loss to Duquesne. Travel is hectic enough, but only having a handful of days to practice complicates the week further. Ohio is used to brief turnarounds, but how it handles one before Louisiana remains to be seen.
When Ohio has the ball: Ohio’s offense showed improvement against Duquesne, but it traded struggles in the red zone for failure to convert on third down. The good news for the Bobcats? The Cajuns haven’t had much success stopping the run this season. If the Bobcats use their pool of running back talent like De’Montre Tuggle and O’Shaan Allison, they’ll find themselves in the end zone often.
When Louisiana has the ball: It’s a tall order for Ohio to shut down Louisiana’s offense. Lewis has thrown for 586 yards in two games and has a wide variety of receivers to choose from. While Louisiana’s rushing attack has struggled out of the gate this season, so has Ohio’s run defense.
- Coach Tim Albin’s weekly press conference
- Louisiana scouting report
- Evaluating Week 2 performances in the MAC
- Bryce Houston enjoys being a leader for Ohio
Sports Editor Jack Gleckler: This game will live and die by Ohio’s defense. Whether it be penalties or failing to stop the run, one factor or another held the defense back in its first two games. Whether Ohio bucks that trend or not is up for debate, but I think it’ll struggle to bottle up Lewis and the Cajuns’ offense. Louisiana wins 28-17
Assistant Sports Editor Eli Feazell: Neither Ohio nor Louisiana are playing up to their potential yet. On paper, Ohio’s offense has the talent to run up the score, but it hasn’t put up the numbers it’s wanted yet. Louisiana was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll in the preseason before falling out after its loss to then-No.21 Texas. Both teams will have something to prove Thursday, but with a deep roster and experienced coach, Louisiana will edge out a victory. Louisiana wins 40-30.