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Ohio U

College Football

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Ohio was headed for the MAC title game last year and then it lost its final two games, both on the road against teams in its division. With most of its offense returning, the Bobcats are favorites to win the entire conference at +320 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) with an over/under of 8.5 wins, which is near last season’s 9-4 mark that included a bowl win. As of note, their conference odds slipped from +230 to +320 from late June to late July.

Most of the Ohio optimism comes from starting quarterback Nathan Rourke, who took the position early last year and led the offense to 39 points per game. Rourke surprised almost everyone as he ran for 882 yards and 21 touchdowns and added another 15 touchdowns through the air. The offense can be just as good with three starters returning on the line to go with numerous skill players. A.J. Ouellette (980 yards, 7 TDs) should again lead the backfield with Julian Ross (211 yards) and Maleek Irons returning from injury. The top receivers are back, as well, with Papi White (525 yards), Andrew Meyer (433 yards) and Elijah Ball. As long as Rourke doesn’t take a step back in his junior season, Ohio’s offense could be good enough to win the conference.

That said, defense could be an issue for Ohio with four returning starters and almost a complete overhaul needed in the front seven. Some new faces are expected on the ends, but there will be seniors in the middle in Kent Berger and Andrew Payne. If that unit struggles, new linebackers will be tasked with more work, although at least senior Evan Croutch has experience. The secondary may be the best unit even though that group struggled the most last season giving up 260 passing yards per game. If experience is enough to improve three returning starters, that could be a big help as long as the Bobcats don’t get run over up front. 

There isn’t one game that looks overly difficult on the schedule for Ohio with non-conference road games at Virginia and Cincinnati also being winnable. Even without wins there, the Bobcats could still go undefeated in MAC play and hit the over for nine or 10 wins. The outlier on the conference schedule is the trip to Northern Illinois, a matchup that could be repeated in the MAC title game. But as long as Rourke keeps this offense rolling, none of the mediocre teams in the conference will be able keep up on the scoreboard as that was the case last season. The road games at NIU, WMU and Miami (OH) are difficult and could be losses, but at a minimum, the Bobcats look headed for eight wins in the regular season.  


2018 Ohio Bobcats Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Howard

Sept. 15 at Virginia

Sept. 22 at Cincinnati

Sept. 29 vs. Massachusetts

Oct. 6 at Kent State

Oct. 13 at Northern Illinois

Oct. 20 vs. Bowling Green

Oct. 25 vs. Ball State

Nov. 1 at Western Michigan

Nov. 7 at Miami (OH)

Nov. 14 vs. Buffalo

Nov. 23 vs. Akron

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