Even the most-cockeyed optimist among Ohio University football fans had to wonder whether the team would ever win another game against Miami University after a 38-7 defeat in 2005.

Miami at Ohio

2 P.M. SATURDAY in ATHENS

Favorite -- Ohio by 15 1⁄2
Records -- Miami 1-4, 0-1 MAC East; Ohio 4-1, 1-0 MAC East
Last meeting -- Ohio won 24-21 last season in Oxford, Ohio; Miami leads 57-37-2.

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Even the most-cockeyed optimist among Ohio University football fans had to wonder whether the team would ever win another game against Miami University after a 38-7 defeat in 2005.

The RedHawks were two seasons removed from the Ben Roethlisberger era, but knocked around the Bobcats for the 11th time in 12 seasons.

First-year Ohio coach Frank Solich was beginning to brew something special, though, and now Miami is the team that is found wanting in having won the "Battle of the Bricks" just once in the past nine seasons.

"Obviously, we had to stop what was happening - get that changed - and it wasn't just the Miami game," Solich said. "That game means a lot to everybody. We know wins don't come easily."

The Bobcats have gone to six bowls since 2006 - earning victories in the Famous Idaho Potato in 2011 and the Independence in '12 - and have had six winning seasons in Solich's 10-year tenure.

"The first thing was really just establishing the belief in yourself, the system and what we were all about," Solich said. "You've got to believe that you can win every game you line up in. You start to develop that belief in the winter conditioning program and the spring."

The RedHawks did win a Mid-American Conference championship in 2010, but that has been the lone winning season since 2006. There have been five coaching changes.

Second-year coach Chuck Martin knows all about rivalries from having been head coach at Division II power Grand Valley State and an assistant at Notre Dame.

"We're lucky to have two rivalries: Cincinnati and OU," he said. "It's huge for our fan base, community and players. These games are the most fun all year. It's about bragging rights for the year."

In 2014, Ohio came back from a three-touchdown deficit to win 24-21 on the final play, a field goal by Josiah Yazdani.

"OU's coach has been there a long time," Martin said. "Their system is in place. They don't beat themselves."

Martin has 62 true freshmen and redshirt freshmen on the roster, and he stressed that consistency has been elusive. Four interceptions and 10 penalties sank Miami in a 20-14 loss to Kent State last week.

"You want your hard work to pay off with a victory rather than a close loss," Martin said.

OTHER OHIO GAMES

Illinois State (3-1, 1-0) at Youngstown State (3-1, 1-0)

7 P.M., YOUNGSTOWN

The skinny• The home team has won the past seven games in this Missouri Valley Football Conference series. Youngstown State is ranked ninth in the Football Championship Subdivision poll, and Illinois State is fourth.

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San Diego (3-1, 2-0) at Dayton (4-0, 1-0)

1 P.M., DAYTON

The skinny• The Flyers' 97-31 record is the best in the 23-year history of the Pioneer Football League, but the Toreros won the championship in 2014 and have won nine straight games. Dayton is off to its best start since 2007.

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Otterbein (2-2, 2-1) at Capital (2-2, 2-1)

1:30 P.M., COLUMBUS

The skinny• Otterbein has won three straight in the series, including 50-28 last season. Both teams need a quick rebound; last week, the Cardinals lost 49-31 to Heidelberg and the Crusaders 62-7 to second-ranked Mount Union.

mznidar@dispatch.com

@markznidar