Ohio will look to get its second Mid-American Conference win of the season when it hosts Central Michigan on Saturday for its Homecoming game.
The Bobcats (1-4, 1-0 MAC) are coming off their first win after they started their conference schedule with a victory over Akron. The Chippewas (2-3, 0-1 MAC) are still searching for their first conference win after falling 28-17 to Miami. If Ohio starts 2-0 against MAC opponents, its struggles against nonconference opponents might become a distant memory. Central Michigan is looking to break even in both its overall and conference record.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Peden Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Below is a guide to game day with how to follow along, depth charts, what to watch for, who has the edge, a reading guide and our predictions:
How to watch: The game will be broadcast on ESPN+. Doug Sherman and Tyoka Jackson will have the call.
How to listen: The game can be listened to via Learfield’s Ohio Sports Network. Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius will be behind the mic.
How to find stats: Stats are provided here.
Provided from each team’s game notes:
Ohio Special Teams
Three things to watch for
The Bobcats showed what their run game can do in the win against the Zips, relying almost exclusively on it in the second half. Against the Chippewas’s conference-leading run defense, however, the Bobcats will be expected to mix things up.
Central Michigan’s pass defense is the lowest ranked in the MAC through five games, having allowed over 350 yards in its last three matchups. Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke is expected to see playing time after sitting out in the second half against Akron, and Ohio’s wide receivers unit is the most complete it's been all season with Cam Odom, Isiah Cox, Jerome Buckner and Ty Walton all listed on the depth chart.
Ohio has not thrown for over 200 yards since its season opener against Syracuse and only threw for 60 yards against Akron. Fewer than 100 yards passing might not be enough against Central Michigan.
The Chippewas’ primary weapon on the ground will be running back Lew Nichols, who has busted out 405 rushing yards and two touchdowns through five games. Nichols has been the Chippewas’ top rusher for the past two seasons and was named the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2020.
Ohio has had trouble with stopping backs like Nichols in the past. Coach Tim Albin compared Nichols to Northwestern running back Evan Hull due to his physicality. Against Ohio, Hull rushed for over 200 yards and scored twice in the first quarter. If Ohio wants to stand any chance against Central Michigan on Saturday, it needs to clamp down on Nichols.
Uncertainty for Richardson
Central Michigan has alternated between quarterbacks Daniel Richardson and Jacob Sirmon this season with some success. Both have passed for over 700 yards this season, but Richardson may not see time on the field Saturday.
The redshirt freshman exited Central Michigan’s game against Miami with a shoulder injury. Although Richardson has taken a handful of reps in practice before Saturday, it’s still murky as to whether he will make an appearance against Ohio, if at all.
When Ohio has the ball: Ohio has the weapons it needs to score both on the ground and in the air. The question is whether or not it will find a flow to consistently get downfield and finish drives against Central Michigan. The Bobcats may have leaned on their run game before, but the Chippewas’s run defense will force them to get creative and utilize a pass game that’s yet to reach its full potential.
The edge: Central Michigan
When Central Michigan has the ball: Ohio’s defense improved in its win over Akron, but the test as to whether or not those improvements stuck will be Saturday. Central Michigan totes the most yards per game and the best passing offense in the MAC. Ohio hasn’t had as much trouble stopping the pass this season, but a running back like Nichols is bound to stir up problems.
The edge: Central Michigan
- What we learned from Tim Albin’s weekly press conference
- Numbers from Ohio’s win over Akron
- Central Michigan scouting report
- Ohio’s history with Central Michigan
- Pierre Kemeni’s lessons learned from overseas
- Alex Wolff’s journey from equipment manager to safety
- Keegan Wilburn’s extensive sneaker collection
Sports Editor Jack Gleckler: Ohio has shown definitive improvement through five games. A more confident defense might be able to knock around Sirmon and Richardson, who have been sacked a collective 21 times, but will encounter trouble when Nichols gets the ball. The offense rolled over Akron, but Central Michigan’s rushing defense is the best in the MAC. Ohio has beaten Central Michigan five times since the two programs first faced off in 1972. I don’t see it notching that sixth win this season. Central Michigan wins 31-21.
Assistant Sports Editor Eli Feazell: There are some favorable matchups for Ohio when it goes against Central Michigan. Odom, Cox and the rest of the receiving corps have proven to be capable of big downfield plays and will need to win one-on-ones all game to get the offense going.
On defense, Nichols will be a force to be reckoned with, as the Bobcats have struggled to take down more physical running backs previously in the season. The Bobcats may find a rhythm in their pass offense and run defense against the Chippewas, but they still need to improve before heading into the meat of their conference schedule. Central Michigan wins 34-20.