Ohio-Troy Preview

Ohio’s Frank Solich is no stranger to bowl games, having won two

as a coach and playing for a national championship in his time with

Nebraska.

Now, Solich will try again to deliver the first postseason

victory in Bobcats history in his third attempt.

Ohio makes its fifth postseason appearance when it takes on Sun

Belt Conference champion Troy in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday

night.

Solich, who led the Cornhuskers to a 58-19 record from 1998-2003

before arriving at Ohio in 2005, guided the Bobcats to their first

bowl appearance in 38 years in 2006. The Bobcats, though, lost 28-7

to Southern Miss in the GMAC Bowl.

Solich had his team back in the postseason last year, but the

Bobcats fell to 0-4 in bowl games with a 21-17 loss to Marshall in

the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26.

Now they’ll look to earn the elusive first postseason victory in

the Big Easy.

“The opportunity to play a bowl game there makes the experience

even more memorable,” safety Donovan Fletcher told the school’s

official website. “Troy is an exceptional team and competing

against them will be a challenge that I know our team is looking

forward to.”

Ohio (8-4) finished second in the East Division of the

Mid-American Conference and earned a second straight bowl berth for

the first time.

“Coach Solich is a high-caliber man,” Troy coach Larry Blakeney

said. “You never heard a peep out of him when he was fired from his

alma mater when he went (9-3 in 2003). He just went on and got

himself another job and went to work.”

The Bobcats had their seven-game winning streak snapped in a

season-ending 28-6 loss to Kent State on Nov. 26. Senior Boo

Jackson threw his school-record 35th career touchdown pass for

Ohio, breaking a mark that had stood for 41 years.

Senior wide receiver Terrence McCrae also set a school record

with his 19th career TD catch.

Troy (7-5) hopes to slow down that duo, and it could help that

Blakeney has seen Solich’s offensive schemes before. Solich went

3-0 against the Trojans from 2001-03.

“There’s no question that we’ll have to defend across the

board,” Blakeney said.

Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi led the MAC with 17 1/2

tackles for loss.

Troy won at least a share of its conference championship for the

fifth straight season, joining BYU, Southern California, Ohio

State, Alabama and Florida State as the only programs to accomplish

the feat.

The Trojans are making their third straight bowl appearance and

fifth in seven seasons. They lost 44-41 in double overtime to

then-No. 25 Central Michigan in the GMAC Bowl last season.

Troy, first in the Sun Belt with 32.9 points per game, will be

facing an Ohio defense that is yielding 21.8. The Trojans also

topped the conference with 441.1 yards per contest, but the Bobcats

are giving up 332.7.

Troy’s Corey Robinson threw for a conference-leading 3,320 yards

with 24 touchdowns, but also was intercepted 15 times.

“Hopefully we can give them some problems too from our offense

to their defense and in the kicking game,” Blakeney said. “We’ve

got a little time, but not a whole lot, to prepare.”

Troy is 1-1 in the New Orleans Bowl, beating Rice 41-17 in 2006

and falling 30-27 in overtime to Southern Mississippi in 2008. The

Trojans are 1-4 in bowl games.