Non-MAC Attackers


Football: Analyzing Ohio’s non-conference opponents

Jordan Horrobin / Staff Writer

Though conference play will determine if the Bobcats return to the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, the non-conference schedule allows coaches and players to see teams they’re not used to playing.

This year’s schedule comprises four schools coming off losing records, two of which are from Power Five conferences.

Non-Conference Football

Carl Fonticella | FILE

Ohio senior wide receiver Sebastian Smith hauls in a catch over Tennessee junior defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. during their game on Saturday, September 17.

Non-conference games get the season started and can provide a momentum boost heading into the bulk of Ohio’s schedule. Here’s a look at the 2017 non-MAC opponents for the Bobcats.

Hampton (Sept. 2 in Athens)

The Bobcats have never played Hampton, a Football Championship Series (FCS) team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

The Pirates finished 5-6 (5-3 MEAC) last season and had the second-best defense by yardage in their conference, allowing 340.5 total yards per game. Ohio, in contrast, allowed 360.2 total yards per game, good for third in the MAC.

Hampton has major holes to fill offensively going into the 2017 season, including the team’s starting quarterback, Jaylian Williamson, who was a graduate student, and wide receiver Rashawn Proctor, who led the MEAC with 70 catches and 997 yards.

Purdue (Sept. 8 in West Lafayette, Indiana)

When Ohio goes to Purdue, it’ll be the Bobcats’ sixth game against a Big Ten opponent in the past 10 years. They are 1-4 in that span — their sole win came at Penn State back in 2012.

Dating back to 1933, Purdue has beaten Ohio all seven times the teams have matched up. Ohio played all those games on the road, and the most recent game was 30 years ago.

Jeff Brohm was named the Boilermakers’ head coach in December after three electric years at Western Kentucky. He led the Hilltoppers to two Conference USA championships and the NCAA’s No. 1 scoring offense in 2016 (45.5 points per game).

Purdue finished 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten) last season and lost its last seven games. The Boilermakers haven’t won back-to-back games since 2012.

Kansas (Sept. 16 in Athens)

With more than 300 yards rushing, Ohio ran over the Jayhawks in last year’s meeting between the two teams in Lawrence, Kansas. It was just the second meeting all-time between the two long-standing programs (Ohio won back in 1967, too).

Kansas hasn’t topped three wins in a 12-game season since 2009. And despite beating Texas last season — the Jayhawks’ first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) win in more than two calendar years — Kansas finished 2-10 (1-8 Big 12).

On the bright side, the Jayhawks are returning wide receivers Steven Sims Jr. and LaQuvionte Gonzalez, who both finished in the Big 12’s top 10 for receptions per game, plus defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., who led the conference in tackles for loss (20) and was second in sacks (10).

The Jayhawks also nabbed former Bobcats defensive line coach Jesse Williams in the offseason to fill the same position.

UMass (Sept. 30 in Amherst, Massachusetts)

During UMass’s brief stint as a football-only member in the MAC from 2012-15, the Bobcats defeated the Minutemen in back-to-back seasons, including a 51-23 blowout in 2013.

UMass won just five games in three seasons as a MAC team before turning in a 2-10 record in its first season as an FBS independent in 2016.

The Minutemen return with their three best offensive weapons next year: quarterback Andrew Ford, tight end Adam Breneman and running back Marquis Young. Ford started nine games and threw for 26 touchdowns, Breneman had 70 catches for 808 yards and Young rushed for 898 yards.

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