Ohio finished its 2022 season strong by winning the Arizona Bowl in overtime. But it wasn’t a perfect season for the program.
The Bobcats were incredibly close to winning the MAC Championship a year ago, but the Bobcats couldn’t quite get past Toledo in the title game and lost 17-7.
The Bobcats, however, are capable of ending 2023 on a higher note.
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Ohio Football’s MAC Title Odds
The Bobcats have the second-best odds to win the MAC at +250, via BetMGM.
Ohio Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Ohio’s win total Over/Under is 7.5, with Under 7.5 at +105 and Over 7.5 at -125.
Ohio Football’s Schedule
8/26 at San Diego State
9/2 vs LIU
9/9 at FAU
9/16 vs Iowa State
9/23 at Bowling Green
10/7 vs Kent State
10/14 at Northern Illinois
10/21 vs Western Michigan
10/28 vs Miami (Ohio)
11/7 at Buffalo
11/15 vs Central Michigan
11/24 at Akron
Bold indicates MAC contests.
Key Ohio Football Returners
2022 All-MAC 1st Team
QB Kurtis Rourke
WR Sam Wiglusz
KR Keegan Wilburn
RB Sieh Bangura
LB Keye Thompson
Kurtis Rourke Setting The Tone For Ohio’s Offense
Bobcats quarterback Kurtis Rourke is arguably the best passer in the MAC and will be crucial if Ohio is going to win a conference title.
Rourke won the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award a year ago after leading the conference in passing yards (3,256), touchdowns (25), and completion percentage (69%). He has started games since 2020, so the redshirt senior has enough experience and a strong enough track record for many to believe he will lead this team to another great season.
Ohio is also set at other skill positions.
Sam Wiglusz was exceptional among MAC wide receivers last year and is back. He was first in the league in receiving touchdowns (11), second in catches (73), and third in receiving yards (877). The graduate student is capable of reaching 1,000 yards if everything goes right.
Ohio running back Sieh Bangura was the 2022 MAC Freshman of the Year and made the all-conference third team. The sophomore totaled the fourth-most rushing yards in the league with 1,078 and was third with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Jacoby Jones, Ohio’s second-leading receiver in 2022, and Keegan Wilburn, an All-MAC first-team kick returner, are also returning.
As for the offensive line, left tackle Jay Amburgey, left guard Kurt Danneker, center Parker Titsworth, and right tackle Shedrick Rhodes Jr. were all the primary starters at their positions and are all back. They helped the Bobcats rank first in the MAC in points scored (31.8) and yards per game (421.4).
Keye Thompson Returning For Ohio’s Defense
Ohio returns six of its top 10 tacklers from a year ago this season.
Keye Thompson was the leader among them. The graduate student linebacker tallied 96 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss in 2022. He will provide some stability for the Bobcats’ defensive unit.
However, the Bobcats need to make improvements on this side of the ball. They were seventh in points per game allowed (28.3) and 11th in yards per game allowed (426.9) while having the third-worst red zone defensive rate (88.5%).
Ohio did get after the quarterback, though. The Bobcats ranked second in the MAC in total sacks (36) last year, and two of their top pass rushers are back.
Linebacker Bryce Houston tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks on top of ranking second with 76 tackles. Defensive end Vonnie Watkins added 4.5 sacks while pacing the team with 14 tackles for loss.
Overall, the Bobcats have a veteran defense, but some of their weaknesses could be exposed at different points in 2023.
Ohio Football Season Prediction
The Bobcats won’t win the MAC this season, but they will win more than seven games.
The Bobcats’ nonconference schedule won’t be easy, but they should be able to win against LIU and one of either San Diego State or FAU, as the Bobcats defeated FAU last year. If they can finish those first four games at .500, then eight wins is absolutely within reach.
The only MAC loss Ohio suffered in the 2022 regular season was against Kent State in overtime. Expect a similar result.
Miami (Ohio) is arguably the Bobcats’ toughest MAC opponent, and that game will be in Athens, Ohio. The Bobcats are also playing NIU and Buffalo on the road, and one of those games could conceivably be a loss for Ohio.
But for the most part, Ohio’s 2023 slate has plenty of winnable games. Bobcats head coach Tim Albin has led this program to a major bounceback since his first year, and the trajectory remains high going into 2023.