The Ohio Bobcats kick off the 2023 college football season, where they finished their last one, out west, when they take on the San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday night. The Aztecs will be a slight home favorite in this intriguing MAC vs. Mountain West nonconference matchup.
Ohio is the defending MAC East champion and won 10 games last season, including a 30-27 overtime victory over Wyoming, another Mountain West member, in the Arizona Bowl. Head coach Tim Albin’s Bobcats feature plenty of returning starters on offense, a group highlighted by reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year Kurtis Rourke. The senior quarterback led the conference with 3,526 passing yards and 25 touchdowns while throwing only four interceptions. He did this despite missing the last three games after tearing his ACL in mid-November. If Rourke is not fully recovered, backup CJ Harris will get the start under center. Harris, a junior, was offensive MVP in the Bobcats’ bowl victory.
San Diego State has a reputation for running the ball and playing stingy defense but needs more from the passing attack as the Aztecs aim for their first Mountain West championship since 2016. The hope is that quarterback Jalen Mayden, who moved from safety around the midpoint of last season, will be the catalyst to improved offensive production.
With head coach Brady Hoke having to replace nearly every starter from last season’s defensive unit that finished 16th in the nation in yards allowed per game, the offense will certainly need to do its part for SDSU to build any momentum during its nonconference slate (which also includes games against UCLA and Oregon State) before heading into Mountain West play.
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The two Group of 5 programs will meet for just the second time when this game takes place at 7 p.m. ET in Snapdragon Stadium, SDSU’s on-campus venue that opened a year ago. The game will be broadcast on FS1.
Expert picks against the spread
Picks made at San Diego State -2.5
Group of 5 win totals based on Austin Mock’s projection model
College football win total over/under picks for Group of 5 teams
(Photo of Jalen Mayden: Chris Williams / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)