Ohio offensive lineman Durrell Wood said there is the usual trash-talking across the line of scrimmage whenever the Bobcats play Marshall in the Battle for the Bell. That, though, isn't the only smack that occurs in what has become one of the most gripping non-conference games in the region.
Marshall at Ohio
7 p.m. Saturday in Athens
Favorite - Marshall by 3
Records - Marshall 1-0; Ohio 1-0
Last meeting - Marshall won 44-14 last season in Huntington, W.Va. Ohio leads the series with a record of 32-20-6.
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Ohio offensive lineman Durrell Wood said there is the usual trash-talking across the line of scrimmage whenever the Bobcats play Marshall.
That, though, isn't the only smack that occurs in what has become one of the most gripping non-conference games in the region.
"It's a big game because there is so much intensity," said Wood, a redshirt sophomore from Groveport. "It's a territorial type of thing. We battle. There are guys talking during the game, yes. But it's mostly football. It's so physical. Both teams are big, strong and athletic."
The teams play the Battle for the Bell, but what Wood remembers most walking off the field after a 34-31 victory in 2013 was the satisfaction. It was Ohio's third straight victory in the series.
"Marshall has so many great athletes, and you've got to match their athleticism," Wood said. "I thought we came out prepared. What we are doing in practice this week is stressing the physical part. We have to be strong because it's going to be a brawl."
Marshall opened eyes with a 41-31 victory over Purdue on Sunday behind first-year starting quarterback Michael Birdsong and tailback Devon Johnson. Birdsong threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 43 yards. Johnson ran for 89 yards and one touchdown.
Birdsong is taking over for one of the Herd's all-time greats, Rakeem Cato.
"You watched their first game against Purdue and you saw two physical football teams," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "They certainly have a great deal of talent. It looks like Birdsong has adjusted to their offense. Johnson is big, fast and powerful. They have a complete offense."
Ohio might have an edge in that it opened with a 45-28 victory at Idaho on Sept. 3. Marshall played on Sunday.
"It's never easy if you have a short week," Solich said. "We get used to that in the MAC conference when we play in the middle of the week. It's just part of the game, and I think everyone understands that. Coaches know how to make it work."