Ohio knows all too well about not taking its opponent seriously.
A look back from last season saw the Ohio University Bobcats falling in triple overtime to Texas State in their home opener. Winning would have put Ohio one win away from reaching double-digits. Besides the road defeat to Tennessee in week three, every other loss in 2016 was by a single score.
Making it to Ford Field once again as the preseason Mid-American Conference favorite in the East Division is doable this year for Ohio and head coach Frank Solich. But before that can happen, FCS Hampton who finished 5-6 last season arrives in Athens for Saturday’s inception.
When Ohio has the ball:
Redshirt sophomore Quinten Maxwell leads the offense after beating out transfer Nathan Rourke in fall camp for the starting job. Maxwell, the 6-foot-3, 224 pounder, started seven games last season, throwing for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns. Running back A.J. Ouellette returns after suffering a foot injury that derailed him during the Texas State game. The Bobcats ranked eighth in the MAC last season in points per game with 26.3. Redshirt senior Dorian Brown rushed for 825 yards and four touchdowns and will share the load with Ouellette. Wide receiver Elijah Ball is out for the year, which leaves both Papi White and Brendan Cope as the main targets for Maxwell. Eight starters come back on the offensive unit.
When Hampton has the ball:
Senior running back Yahkee Johnson is the Pirates’ force on offense, who rushed for 763 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, earning him first team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honors. Hampton averaged 19.4 points a game last year. Dual-threat quarterback Delmon Williams, a transfer out of San Jose City College, is expected to start.
The non-conference matchup will be televised on ESPN3 with a 7:00 PM EST kickoff. Solich enters his 12th year as head coach of the Bobcats, being the third-longest tenured coach in the NCAA behind Kirk Ferentz of Iowa and Gary Patterson of TCU. Solich is third all-time in career MAC wins with 88.
This will be the second straight year that Ohio opens up the season at home and first time playing Hampton in program history. Barring any surprises like what happened with Central Michigan on Thursday against FCS Rhode Island, the Bobcats should win this game comfortably.