Earlier this month at Ford Field, Ohio failed to win its first Mid-American Conference title in 31 seasons. When it returns to Detroit on Dec. 26 to face Marshall in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, it has a good chance to win its first bowl game.
The Bobcats go for their first 10-win season since 1968 as they face the Thundering Herd, who will be led by interim coach Rick Minter as they try to avoid their fifth straight losing season.
Winners of the MAC East for the first time since 2006, Ohio (9-4) lost 20-10 to Central Michigan in the conference championship Dec. 4. The Bobcats were trying for their first MAC title since 1968.
"We obviously would like to come back (to Ford Field)," coach Frank Solich said after that defeat.
Senior Theo Scott will try to lead the Bobcats to their first bowl victory in their fourth appearance after throwing for 2,258 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Scott, who took over the starting job after Boo Jackson suffered a torn labrum Sept. 12, was battling a left ankle injury in the MAC title game but is expected to be at full strength.
One of Scott's favorite targets lately has been junior wide receiver Terrence McCrae, who had career highs with seven catches and 141 yards Dec. 4.
Scott also has senior wide receiver Taylor Price as an effective deep-play threat. Price, the program's all-time leader with 145 receptions, was held to one catch in the MAC title game.
First-team all-conference kick returner Chris Garrett, who led the MAC with 27.0 yards per return, has rushed for a team-high 591 yards.
Ohio will look to snap a four-game losing streak to Marshall, which before joining Conference USA in 2005 won seven of the eight meetings as a member of the MAC from 1997-2004.
The Thundering Herd (6-6) are playing in their first bowl game since a 32-14 loss to Cincinnati in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl.
Marshall dropped three of four to end this regular season, falling 52-21 at UTEP in its finale Nov. 28. A day after that defeat, coach Mark Snyder resigned after going 21-37 in five seasons.
"It has been an honor to be the coach here and I will always be appreciative of the opportunity my university gave me," Snyder said in a statement. "I want to thank all of the fans for their support and all of my players and assistant coaches for their hard work and dedication. I wish the program nothing but the best."
Minter, the defensive coordinator, will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game. The Thundering Herd gave West Virginia assistant John "Doc" Holliday a five-year contract Dec. 17 to coach the team.
Junior Brian Anderson will attempt to lead the Thundering Herd to their first bowl win since 2002.
Anderson has completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 2,561 yards with 14 TDs and 13 interceptions.
Freshmen wide receivers Antavious Wilson and Aaron Dobson have combined for more than 1,000 yards and notched seven TDs, while senior Cody Slate -- a Mackey Award finalist -- has 607 receiving yards and four scores.
The Thundering Herd, though, will face a defense that leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with 36 forced turnovers.
Junior linebacker Noah Keller, 12th in the nation with 10.6 tackles per game, will try to help the Bobcats slow down running back Darius Marshall, who is expected to return after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.
Marshall, a second-team all-conference selection, rushed for 11 TDs and 117.1 yards per game -- fourth in Conference USA.
Ohio's last five opponents have rushed for an average of 157.8 yards.
The Bobcats lead the series with Marshall 29-17-6. Their last victory was 38-28 on Nov. 18, 2000.