Ohio is one of the betting favorites to win the Mid-American Conference. Meanwhile, San Diego State hopes their defense comes together quickly so they can compete for a Mountain West Conference title.
Barstool Sports lists the Bobcats as +3.5 point underdogs, while BetRivers Ohio has a 50-point total on the board when the two sides meet Saturday, August 26 at 7:00 pm Eastern.
Ohio Bobcats Banking on O’Rourke
Bobcats quarterback Kurtis Rourke has returned from an ACL injury, but just how quickly he gets comfortable on the field will determine how much success Ohio has this season. He’s in charge of a potentially high-scoring offense with uber-fast receivers like Sam Wiglucz to sling it to.
Running back Sieh Bangura returns from a 1000-yard rushing season, and he’s scampering behind a solid offensive line returning three, and their replacements are all upper-classmen. This offense led the MAC last season in scoring, Rourke has thrown for nearly 6000 yards during his career, and Bangura is their sledgehammer.
The Bobcats’ defense should be better than 11th in total yards allowed like they were last season. Ohio is likely strongest in the secondary–the linebackers should also be better than last season. Still, the defensive line needs to do better than last season against the run, and DE Vonnie Watkins projects to be the leader.
San Diego State Aztecs Looking for 14th Consecutive Winning Season
Defensive back-turned-quarterback Jalen Maden turned a bad Aztec passing attack into a respectable one that could take a giant leap with an entire season under center. He threw for over 2000 yards in his eight games and had a couple of solid hands in wideouts Mekhi Shaw and Western Carolina transfer Raphael Williams.
The Aztecs running game should be a work in progress, but the offensive line couldn’t be any worse last season–they allowed far too many tackles for losses, and defensive ends were feasting in the offensive backfield. Three starters return from that unit, but they’ve added some depth and should be better in 2023.
Defense is the Aztecs calling card, and since 2013, the defense has been in the top 21 in the country in total yards allowed. They took a bit hit and will have just two starters returning. The defensive line is smaller than in other years but much quicker, and linebackers Cooper McDonald and Cody Moon are both projected to play critical roles.
Safety Dez Malone will lead the defensive backfield, and we should expect to hear safety Cedarious Barfield’s number called plenty on Saturday.
Ohio Bobcats vs. San Diego State Aztecs Betting Prediction
This should be a fun game on Saturday, but my best bet is San Diego State Under 50 -110 at BetRivers.
I like the potential of both offenses, but the respective defenses will shine brightly on Saturday.
Ohio could have one of the best offenses in the country, but Rourke is coming off an ACL injury and will take time to get comfortable in the pocket. He can sling it and has some talent on the wings, but he’s not very mobile, and we should expect San Diego State to test his offensive line and come after him.
That could be trouble with Barfield rooming around looking for picks, and I expect Rourke to chuck an interception or two on Saturday.
San Diego State has found their quarterback, and Maden is good. He can run a bit, really sling it, and will have playmakers like Shaw and Williams to throw it to. Maden did throw 10 picks last season and suffered 17 sacks in eight games.
The lack of an established go-to guy out of the backfield is a problem for the Aztecs, but we should expect San Diego State to at least try to run the football against what should be a mediocre Bobcats rushing defense.
Finally, opening day is opening day, and the goosebumps and jitters will be plentiful. The Bobcats will be careful with Rourke, and we could see Ohio go to backup QB CJ Harris.
Both teams’ defensive backfields are their strengths, and I expect to see more rushing and less throwing of the football on Saturday. That should keep the scoring at a minimum and Under 50.5 points at BetRivers.
San Diego State Under 50.5 -110 at BetRivers.
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