Bowl veteran Frank Solich leads Ohio vs. Troy, Neal Brown
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Ohio coach Frank Solich has received a healthy assortment of bowl mementoes during his coaching and playing career. Troy's Neal Brown is just starting to build his own collection.
The Bobcats' veteran leads his team against the Trojans and their 36-year-old coach in Friday night's Dollar General Bowl. It's the first bowl game for Brown as a head coach and Troy's first since 2010.
For Solich, it will be his 13th bowl game as head man at Ohio and Nebraska, not to mention his tenure as a Cornhuskers player and assistant coach.
''I've got a lot of bowl watches, a lot of bowl rings,'' he said.
Brown's in his second season as a head coach and figures the Trojans (9-3) are probably a year ahead of what he expected. He called a few of his fellow coaches for advice on bowl planning and scheduling.
He's more focused on the players having a chance to be part of the first Troy team to reach 10 wins since moving up to the FBS in 2001.
''To be the first team in our Division I history to have 10 wins would be a huge, huge accomplishment for this group,'' Brown said. ''We talk about leaving a legacy. This is their opportunity to leave a legacy.
''Any time you do something for the first time, they're going to put your picture on the wall, they're going to bring you back for reunions. So that's what we have at stake (Friday) night.''
Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers and tailback Jordan Chunn lead an offense that tops the Sun Belt in scoring, total yards and passing yards. The Bobcats counter with the Mid-American Conference's top run defense and a front line that Brown says trails only Clemson as the best his team has faced.
Some other things to know about the Troy-Ohio game:
BLOCKING OHIO: Troy's pass protection has kept Brandon Silvers' uniform mostly clean this season, but the blockers face a big test. The Trojans have allowed only six sacks all season. Ohio's defense is producing 3.31 sacks per game, eighth-best nationally.
DEFENSIVE STARS: The game will feature both the Mid-American and Sun Belt Conference defensive players of the year on the front lines. Troy's Rashad Dillard has 7.5 sacks while the Bobcats' Tarell Basham is the team's all-time sack leader He has 11.5 sacks this season.
RUNNING ROOM: Chunn has been a powerful force for Troy's offense. The 6-foot-1, 231-pound bruiser has run for 1,232 yards and 13 touchdowns. Now, he'll face a defense that ranks sixth against the run and is only allowing 105.8 rushing yards per game.
BOWL FORTUNES: Solich has made the Bobcats into bowl regulars with seven appearances in the past eight seasons. They have lost two straight bowl games and are 2-7 overall. Solich has a 4-8 bowl record as a head coach. Troy's last postseason appearance came in January 2010 and the Trojans fell 44-41 to Central Michigan in double overtime.
ON THE REBOUND: Troy lost two of its final three games after becoming the first nationally ranked Sun Belt Conference team. Ohio pushed No. 12 Western Michigan down to the wire before losing the Mid-American Conference championship game. Both teams get another chance to prove their resilience. ''They expected to win that football game, and not winning it was a disappointment,'' Solich said of the MAC championship. ''But they're also a smart football team and they know you need to move on, and they started moving on right away in terms of preparation for playing really well in a bowl game.''
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25