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Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) runs the ball during the victory over Florida Atlantic at Peden Stadium.

Football Column: Mistakes against Iowa State must not become a trend

Ohio has spent the past two weeks traveling across the Midwest to play a pair of road games against Power 5 opponents Penn State and Iowa State, both of whom blew Ohio out.

On the surface, these two games looked very similar, and the score lines were almost identical. Ohio lost 46-10 to Penn State and 43-10 to Iowa State, and it looked completely outmatched in both of them.

If you look a little bit deeper, however, the loss to Iowa State was much worse and revealed some problems that could cost Ohio in Mid-American Conference play.

In the first two games of the season, Ohio allowed just four sacks. Only one of those sacks came against Penn State, and it did not turn the ball over. Against Iowa State, however, Ohio doubled its season total for sacks allowed and turned the ball over four times.

Now, there is only so much to be taken from games against the quality of opposition that Ohio has faced, but the fact that it looked so much worse against Iowa State than Penn State is concerning.

The mistakes that Ohio made against Iowa State cannot become a pattern if it wants to get back to a bowl game this season. The sacks can be excused, at least to some degree, because Iowa State has an excellent defensive line. However, Ohio’s four turnovers are a significant red flag heading into its final home game before MAC play.

Ohio’s performance in Week 1 was hugely encouraging, as it defeated a team at a similar level and showed real improvement coming off a disappointing 2021 season. But the biggest positive for Ohio was that Kurtis Rourke looked confident, poised and ready to take the next step in 2022.

Even against Penn State, he avoided big mistakes and while his numbers were unimpressive, he still looked comfortable in the pocket and unfazed by the opponent.

Against Iowa State, the tentative, jittery Rourke that we saw for much of 2021 returned. He struggled mightily with Iowa State’s pass rush and threw two dreadful interceptions, in addition to an early fumble.

That fumble was part of the most concerning sequence of the day, in which Rourke turned the ball over on consecutive offensive plays. First, the aforementioned fumble gave Iowa State the ball inside Ohio’s ten-yard line, then an interception gave Iowa State the ball near midfield.

The Cyclones scored ten points off those two turnovers, and the Bobcats’ deficit ballooned from 14 to 24 in under two minutes of game time, essentially ending the game. Rourke improved his numbers with some nice completions in the second half, but that was after the game was well in hand for Iowa State.

While it is possible, even likely, that this was just a small blip against a very good team, it is definitely something to watch as the Bobcats prepare for MAC play.

It has been a long two weeks for Rourke and the Ohio offense since their dominant performance against Florida Atlantic, and a rebound game against Fordham is necessary for Ohio if it wants to be playing in December.

@willocunningham

wc425318@ohio.edu

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