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An OHIO cheerleader runs onto the field after a score at Ohio University Football plays Long Island State Football at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio, Sept. 2, 2023

Football: Ranking Ohio's Defensive performances this season

Ohio’s 2023 season has been filled with incredible defensive performance week after week.

So far, through four weeks, the Ohio defense has produced three Mid-American Conference players of the week. Linebacker Bryce Houston has received the honor twice. 

Ohio’s defense has been a big part of the team's 4-1 start to the season and its most impressive performance in non-conference games in recent memory. 

Iowa State

Ohio’s Week 3 win against Iowa State was the team’s most impressive of the season so far. In the 10-7 victory, Ohio’s defense led the way to its first win against a power-five opponent since 2017. 

With 15 tackles and half a tackle for loss, team captain Bryce Houston was awarded Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week. 

Ohio’s defense was also to come down with two interceptions against Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht. One interception was a game-winning turnover by defensive tackle Rodney Mathews, the first interception of his career. 

Florida Atlantic 

Ohio’s 17-10 win at Florida Atlantic, was highlighted by a defensive effort that allowed only three points. Florida Atlantic’s only touchdown of the game came on defense when Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke threw a pick-six early in the first half. 

Ohio’s defense was able to force two turnovers on the Florida Atlantic offense. Defensive back Austin Brawley picked up his second interception of the year against FAU. Brawley’s two interceptions lead the team four weeks into the year. 

Against FAU, Ohio’s defense once again stepped up and took control of the game while the offense struggled to create separation.

Bowling Green 

It’s telling how spectacular Ohio’s defense has been that this performance is only its third-best of the season. Ohio had two defensive touchdowns, forced four turnovers, and allowed seven points (none of which were given up by Ohio’s starters). 

Many Bobcats played well against Bowling Green, including Bryce Houston, who forced a fumble and led the Bobcats in tackles, but Keye Thompson was given the honor of MAC East Defensive Player of the Week. Thompson had an interception and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.

The only reason this performance isn’t ranked higher is that as great of a defensive effort as Ohio put forth against Bowling Green, the pressure of the game was over by halftime when Ohio led 31-0.

San Diego State 

Ohio’s Week Zero performance set the tone for the unit. 

Despite the 20-13 loss, Ohio gave up just over 300 yards while forcing a turnover. The 20 points Ohio gave up to San Diego State was its most of the season, but considering the three turnovers Ohio gave up on offense, this performance should be recognized as one of Ohio’s best.

Houston was his usual self in the loss, leading Ohio with 13 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

Long Island 

This performance may be ranked last on this list but that isn't to say that the defense performed poorly. 

Without quarterback Kurtis Rourke on the field, Ohio’s defense stepped up versus Long Island to cement its first win of the season in a 27-10 victory. 

Throughout the game, Ohio was able to muster two interceptions and four sacks. Along with the four sacks, Ohio’s defense had a season-high eight tackles for loss. 

Houston also notably recorded 11 tackles in Week 2, following up a 15-tackle performance in Week 1 at San Diego. Through four weeks, Houston leads the MAC with 23-solo-tackles. 

Houston was awarded MAC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against LIU.



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