No. 4: The Ohio Bobcats
In the words of CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli, “Ohio is a wagon.” Fornelli broke out the catchphrase after Ohio put together an impressive run of covering points spreads in 2022 after a slow start to the season. But beyond be a consistently profitable bet last season, Ohio’s actual record on the field justifies the “wagon” title.
Ohio won 10 games for the first time since 2011 and played for the MAC championship. And with several key players back from last year’s squad, there’s a great chance this could be the year the Bobcats finally breakthrough for their first conference title since 1968.
It starts at QB, where Ohio has one of the best passers in the country. Yes, I said “the country”. Kurtis Rourke was brilliant for the Bobcats last season, completing more than 69% of his passes for 3,256 yards and 25 TDs with just 4 INTs. Rourke, unfortunately, tore his ACL in the 11th game of 2022, but it seems he’s on track to be ready to go for this season.
Assuming he’s back to being 100 percent, he gives Ohio the type of talent at QB the MAC hasn’t seen in a long time. Beyond him, Ohio returns a fantastic RB in Sieh Bangura and a great receiving corps in Sam Wiglusz, Jacoby Jones, and Miles Cross.
The OL was shaky at times in 2022, but with more experience, they should improve this year. If nothing else, we should marvel at the fact that this group is home to the best name in college football.
The defense is anchored by the stud LB tandem of Keye Thompson and Bryce Houston. The duo combined for 172 tackles in 2022. DE Vonnie Watkins anchors the DL after recording 14 TFL last year. The backend of the defense needs work, but CB Torrie Cox is a good piece to build around.
There’ll be a few opportunities to catch Ohio on national television this year. They’ll participate in Week 0 action with a trip out to San Diego State (Rouke vs former MSU QB Jalen Mayden will be must-watch), and they’ve got a couple midweek appearances as a part of #MACtion in November.
Ohio is a wagon, and folks need to hop on for the ride.