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Photo by Clay Stark | For The Post

Nonconference Notes

Published August 15, 2022

Football: A look at Ohio’s nonconference schedule

By Will Cunningham | Assistant Sports Editor

Coming off its first losing season since 2008, Ohio will have to hit the ground running against a tough non-conference slate if it is going to bounce back.

Ohio is familiar with its Mid-American Conference opposition, but the nonconference schedule is an opportunity to face off against new teams and rekindle some old matchups.

In its second year under head coach Tim Albin, Ohio will welcome Florida Atlantic to Peden Stadium to kick off the non-conference schedule. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two teams.

The Owls are entering their third season under former Florida State head coach Willie Taggart and coming off a 5-7 season in which they narrowly missed a bowl berth. Also, in this year's preseason media poll, they finished fourth in Conference USA.

This game is a major opportunity for Ohio to notch a win over a program of a similar stature before its non-conference schedule gets tough, but it will be Florida Atlantic's second game of the season, so it will certainly be a challenge for Ohio.

Ohio's nonconference schedule really gets going in week two, as it will travel to Beaver Stadium, the second largest stadium in the U.S., to take on its first of two Power 5 opponents, Penn State.

The Bobcats and Nittany Lions have played six times, and while five of them have gone in favor of the Nittany Lions, the Bobcats took the last matchup in a stunning 24-14 upset in State College back in 2012.

Last season, Penn State spent the first 11 weeks of the year inside the AP Top 25, going as high as number four, before falling out in Week 12. Until three straight losses to Iowa, Illinois and Ohio State, Penn State had legitimate aspirations of making the College Football Playoff. With veteran quarterback Sean Clifford returning, those aspirations could be present again.

Things won't let up for Ohio after that trip, as the following week it travels to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State. The two schools have played seven times and Iowa State has each game, but they have not faced off since 2003.

Iowa State, historically one of the Power 5's weakest programs, is in the midst of one of its greatest ever periods of success. In 2020, the program made the Big 12 championship game and a New Year's Six bowl, both for the first time in program history.

The success of this period is thanks to head coach Matt Campbell, a three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, who returns for his sixth season in charge despite significant speculation around his future this offseason. Thanks to what Campbell has done in Ames, a game that could have been a prime opportunity for Ohio to notch a Power 5 win will now be an extremely stiff test.

Ohio will wrap up its nonconference schedule with a visit from Fordham and an opportunity to remove the stain of last year's loss to another FCS program, Duquesne. Ohio and Fordham have never faced off.

Fordham went 6-5 last season and failed to qualify for the FCS playoffs, but they were picked to finish second in the Patriot League preseason poll. Quarterback Tim DeMorat was also picked to win Offensive Player of the Year.

Given how difficult their nonconference schedule is, a 2-2 record heading into MAC play would be great for the Bobcats, but they will need to show a good deal of improvement from last year to make that happen.

AUTHOR: Will Cunningham
EDITOR: Ashley Beach