Ohio got off on the wrong foot over the weekend on the road at San Diego State. Despite a 20-13 loss, the defeat should be taken with a grain of salt by Ohio fans.
The biggest storyline from the game is that Ohio’s star quarterback, Kurtis Rourke, went down with an apparent injury during the first quarter, sidelining him for the remainder of the game.
Leading up to San Diego State, Ohio was not expected to win; even with Rourke. San Diego State features one of the best Group of Five defenses in all of college football, and Rourke, even before the injury at the end of the first quarter, was playing his first game since tearing his ACL last November.
Other than an outlier in Power Five opponent Iowa State, Ohio is unlikely to face another defense as good as that of SDSU in 2023. Ohio needed Rourke to win this game, it just wasn’t the right time.
At the time of Rourke’s injury, Ohio was tied with San Diego State 3-3 and marching into enemy territory on its way to potentially score the game’s first touchdown. That’s just not how things worked out for Ohio. In a matter of a quarter, OU’s backup, CJ Harris, was forced into a situation in which he would have to face one of Ohio’s toughest opponents for the 2023 season on the defensive side of the ball.
On Harris’ first throw, he was intercepted. He would go on to throw three interceptions and only one touchdown in his three quarters of play.
Despite all the quarterback drama, the most important thing that we learned Saturday is that Ohio’s defense is ready to pick up right where it left off last season.
Ohio’s defense was a tale of two halves last year. In the first six games of the season, the Bobcats gave up a total of 40 points per game compared to its last eight games where they only gave up 19.
Going into fall camp this year, it was a priority to get off to a fast start on both sides of the ball, especially on defense. Despite the loss, Ohio showed that it is ready for what is to come in the 2023 season.
Bryce Houston, a captain for the Bobcats this season, led the team with 13 total tackles; putting forth a performance that could not go unnoticed. Ohio was also able to force a turnover early in the first half on a fumble that was forced by Bralen Henderson.
Another high note for Ohio was the first half play by freshman kicker Gianni Spetic. Ohio had many questions entering the 2023 season at the kicker position after the All-MAC second team kicker Nathaniel Vakos transferred to Wisconsin. Spetic went two-for-two on field goals in the first half, including a 40-yard field goal that gave Ohio its only lead of the game at 6-3.
So, even though Ohio struggled in week zero, there’s no need to panic about the hope that it can return to a bowl game and potentially win the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2023.
The defense has already started hot and it has been announced as of Monday that Rourke is scheduled to make the start in Ohio’s home opener this weekend against Long Island University.
Like any team, the Bobcats have work to do as they approach conference play later this season, but after San Diego State, there are a lot of positives that show the team can seal the deal this year on a Mid-American Conference championship.