Ohio beat Kent State 45-38 Saturday at Peden Stadium after a career-day from quarterback Nathan Rourke and a significant improvement from its defense in the fourth quarter.
Despite their rough start to the season, the Bobcats are 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference play and have a clear path toward making an appearance in the MAC Championship for the first time since 2016.
Whose stock went up? Whose stock went down?
Ohio doesn’t have a clear No. 1 wide receiver seven games into the season. That doesn’t appear to be a bad thing.
It seems as though a new receiver has stepped up with a big game each week of MAC play. This week, it was Cox, who had four receptions for 115 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season after he went uncovered on a Rourke deep ball in the first quarter.
The redshirt sophomore now leads the Bobcats with 19 receptions this season and is second with 315 yards. Perhaps he’ll be one of the first receivers to have back-to-back big weeks if he can replicate his performance against Ball State on Saturday.
Ohio’s running back depth is truly special. Julian Ross and O’Shaan Allison — who both have battled through multiple injuries this season — began the game as the Bobcats’ two starting backs. Both went down with injuries in the first half.
Tuggle was suddenly the No. 1 running back, and he did a fine job with 19 carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns. His 19-yard touchdown run with just under three minutes left sealed the win and gave him his fifth touchdown of the season.
The Bobcats want Ross and Allison healthy, but they won’t worry about running back production as long as Tuggle is healthy, too.
We didn’t think the senior quarterback’s stock could go much higher after he broke the program’s all-time career touchdown record Week 3 against Marshall.
We were wrong.
Regardless of how Ohio’s defense has performed, Rourke has always kept the Bobcats in games. This week, his career-best 342 passing yards was enough to keep Ohio’s six-game win streak against Kent alive.
Rourke has at least five games left in an Ohio uniform. The Bobcats need to continue taking advantage of his talent.
A full four-quarter defense
The defense finally made late-game stops against the Golden Flashes and ensured that the Bobcats wouldn’t waste a 45-point day, but Ohio still allowed Kent to score points on three of its first four drives of the game.
The Bobcats made key stops, but they will still need more out of their defense to continue winning conference games. Until that happens, Ohio will continue to play in shootouts with opponents.
The redshirt junior’s quiet year continued with just one reception for seven yards against Kent. The Bobcats have been fine at wide receiver, but not many expected Odom, a team captain, to have only 11 receptions for 120 yards and no touchdowns after seven games.
Maybe Odom will be the next receiver to have a big game. Right now, though, that doesn’t appear to be a possibility.