Start Time: 9:00 P.M. ET, Thursday, Sept. 3
Location: Kibbie Dome, Moscow, Idaho
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Records: 2-1 Ohio. Last meeting: Ohio 36, Idaho 24 in 2014.
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: Ohio -8, Over/Under of 57
Ohio Outlook: The Ohio Bobcats head into this season with senior Derrius Vick (94-160/1,156/8TD) looking to lead the way at quarterback. The senior has been up and down during his Bobcats career but hopes to find consistency for the 2015 season. Flanking Vick in the backfield is running back AJ Ouellette (160/785/7TD). The sophomore took over the reins last season and is Ohio's leading returning rusher for the upcoming season. Daz'mond Patterson is a solid backup running back but is excellent in the return game as the team's primary kickoff and punt returner. Wide receivers Sebastian Smith (31/385/2TD) and Jordan Reid (24/326/1TD) as well as tight end Troy Mangen (19/147/0TD) should give some much needed help to Vick and company in the passing game. The Bobcats have all five returning linemen with 10+ starts last fall led by 3rd team All-MAC honoree Lucas Powell.
Ohio should be solid on defense this fall with Tarell Basham (33 tkl, 6 tfl, 5 sacks) and Kurt Laseak (23 tkl, 4 tfl, 3 sacks) back in the trenches for their junior seasons. Linebackers Quentin Poling (89 tkl, 8 tfl, 5 sacks), Jovon Johnson (67 tkl, 10.5 tfl, 3.5 sacks), and Blair Brown (55 tkl, 4 tfl, 1 sack) should give the Bobcats one of the better linebacker corps in the MAC. Defensive backs Ian Wells (42 tkl, 12 pbu, 12 pd), Devin Bass (42 tkl, 1 INT, 9 pbu, 10 pd), and Toran Davis (42 tkl, 1 INT, 1 pbu, 2 pd) give the Bobcats a very experienced back line.
Idaho Outlook: Idaho is coming into the 2015 season with hopeful expectations despite a poor 2014 season last fall. Quarterback Matt Linehan (221-379/2,540/11TD) is back for his sophomore season after earning Honorable mention All-Sun Belt honors as a freshman. Senior running back Elijhaa Penny (139/589/12TD) should be even better this fall after a solid junior season that say him lead the team in rushing yards. Wide receivers Deon Watson (37/343/1TD) and Jacob Sannon (22/285/0TD) should give Linehan a couple of solid wideouts to throw the ball to this fall. The Vandals offensive line returns four linemen that made six or more starts with Jordan Rose making the Sun Belt Newcomer Team last fall.
It is a bit of a surprise that the Vandals aren't better on defense with several individuals that did a good job last fall including defensive lineman Quinton Bradley (52 tkl, 10 tfl, 6 sacks). Bradley is the most expereinced and most talented defender in the trenches for Idaho and should demand a double team on most plays. Linebackers Marc Millan (102 tkl, 15.5 tfl, 2 sacks) and Broc Westlake (41 tkl) combined for 143 tackles last fall to lead the Vandals defense. In the secondarty, the Vandals return Jayshawn Jordan (62 tkl, 2 INT) and Russell Siavii (52 tkl, 2 INT) from a secondary that needs to improve for the Vandals to make a move towards respectability this fall. The Vandals do have the best punter in the Sun Belt in junior Austin Rehkow (47.8 avg.,). The 1st team All-Sun Belt punter should be among the league leaders in 2015 as well.
Prediction: Ohio has the more experienced offensive line and should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage throughout the game, giving big holes for the Ohio running backs to hit. Idaho should be able to move the ball on a regular basis via the passing game but will struggle to put the ball in the end zone. It should be reasonably close for the first half before Ohio pulls away for a double digit win.