Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: First Look At The Ohio Bobcats

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: First Look At The Ohio Bobcats

Arizona Bowl

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: First Look At The Ohio Bobcats

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Barstool Sporte Arizona Bowl: First Look at the Ohio Bobcats


Wyoming will square off with an Ohio team that beat expectations this fall. Here’s a first look at how the Bobcats got to bowl season.


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A good team missing one crucial piece.

The Wyoming Cowboys will finish their 2022 season with an appearance in the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl on December 30, where they will face off with the MAC’s Ohio Bobcats.

Tim Albin’s team defied preseason expectations in winning their division thanks to an explosive offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense, but the trajectory of their season changed late when one key player was lost for the rest of the year to injury. Have the Bobcats regrouped?

So what should Cowboys fans expect when they look ahead to the game on Friday? Here is our first look at Ohio.

2022 Ohio Bobcats — Team Profile

Conference: Mid-American

2022 Record: 9-4 (7-1 MAC)

SP+ ranking: 87th (61st offense, 95th defense)

FEI ranking: 76th

Sagarin rating: 74th

Head coach: Tim Albin (second year at Ohio; 12-13 with Bobcats, 37-21 overall)

2022 in a nutshell: If you were in need of high-octane MACtion this year, few teams delivered like Ohio. In non-conference play, the Bobcats survived upset bids against Florida Atlantic and Fordham while getting pasted on the road against both Penn State and Iowa State, then settled into conference play after dropping their opener to Kent State.

Ohio ripped off seven wins in a row to claim the MAC East crown and averaged 37.7 points per game in that streak, but it wasn’t without a cost. Star quarterback Kurtis Rourke, the MAC’s offensive player of the year, suffered a season-ending injury in November and his absence was a big reason why the Bobcats came up short in the championship game against Toledo. The big question for this bowl game is whether Ohio has been able to adjust to life without Rourke.

Best wins: vs. Buffalo (7-6), vs. Bowling Green (6-7), at Miami of Ohio (6-7)

Key Players

RB Sieh Bangura

The Bobcats have had some quality running backs in recent memory and the MAC’s freshman of the year looks like he’ll fit right into the lineage established by Beau Blankenship and A.J. Ouellette. After seeing action in just four games as a true freshman in 2021, Bangura finished fifth in the MAC with 940 rushing yards and second with 14 total touchdowns in his redshirt freshman campaign this fall. He also had 20 or more carries in each of Ohio’s final four contests, so they won’t be shy about putting the game in his hands.

G Hagen Meservy

Wyoming’s interior defense will get a stiff test in Meservy, a sixth-year senior and first-team all-MAC selection who has started every game for the Bobcats in 2022. According to Pro Football Focus, his 78.7 overall grade was the third-highest among all guards in the Group of 5, so while you may recall his minor claim to fame as an on-field gymnast from a few years ago, his caliber of play should garner plenty more attention these days.

WR Sam Wiglusz

After spending three seasons with Ohio State, Wiglusz moved from Columbus to Athens as a graduate transfer and thrived as the team’s primary pass catcher. He finished third in the MAC with 70 catches and 856 receiving yards, but his 11 touchdowns catches tied for first and with 13 catches of 20-plus yards on his resume, he’ll be a threat to break one open at any time.

CB Torrie Cox Jr.

Bangura wasn’t the only young gun to make a splash for the Bobcats in 2022. The redshirt freshman from Miami looked like he might become a defensive cornerstone after racking up 50 tackles, three tackles for loss, six pass breakups, and two interceptions in 12 starts this fall, meaning that whichever Wyoming pass catcher matches up against him may have their hands full getting open.

DE Jack McCrory

McCrory was one of Ohio’s top contributors in the trenches this fall, earning a spot on the all-MAC third-team defense by leading the Bobcats with nine quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. Overall, he also pitched in with 56 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks, so Wyoming’s offensive tackles will need to be on their guard lest he derail their plans in a hurry.

Overview:

Offense

With Rourke under center, the Bobcats played like one of the most potent offenses in the Group of 5. Ohio ranked 33rd overall with 2.63 points per drive and 36th in gaining 52.1% of available yards per drive, pacing the MAC with 6.24 yards per play, but they struggled mightily in the conference championship against the Toledo Rockets, managing just 4.37 YPP while getting inside the opponent’s 40-yard line twice in 11 drives.

It’s little surprise, then, that much of Ohio’s fortunes will hinge on whether C.J. Harris has found his footing. Rourke’s sophomore backup completed under 50% of his throws in the regular season finale against Bowling Green and then managed 5.3 yards per attempt in the MAC title game, a far cry from the offense which posted 73 total plays of 20 or more yards in 13 games.

If he can, Ohio has the talent to pose problems for a depleted Wyoming defense. Bangura leads the backfield while Meservy and center Parker Titsworth anchor the offensive line and Wiglusz has company in the passing game with James Bostic and Jacoby Jones. That duo finished first and second among qualifying MAC pass catchers with respective averages of 18.5 and 17.4 yards per catch.

Defense

The Bobcats defense had its fair share of adventures this year, finishing 80th in the country by available yards percentage allowed and 60th in points per drive allowed. They also finished dead last in the MAC by giving up 6.26 yards per play, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they can’t do some things pretty well: Ohio’s 22.5% stuff rate is 20th among FBS defense and their 62.5% power success rate allowed is 33rd, and they also ranked around the middle of the pack by sack rate and opportunity rate allowed.

McCrory and Vonnie Watkins (13 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) will set the edge against Wyoming, but the interior pair of Kai Caesar and Rodney Mathews (12 combined TFLs, six combined sacks) can also do some damage. In the middle of this unit, senior linebacker Bryce Houston led Ohio with 5.5 sacks and running mate Keye Thompson had a team-high 96 total tackles to go along with 6.5 TFLs and three pass breakups.

The secondary may need to put in some work to prove it can keep Wyoming’s limited passing game from breaking out, though. Only five FBS teams faced more pass attempts this year than the Bobcats, but Ohio allowed opponents to complete 65.5% of their 481 throws this year and gave up 7.9 yards per attempt as well as 28 passing touchdowns. It’s an experienced group, however, with Cox Jr. flanked by cornerback Justin Birchette (33 tackles, seven pass breakups) and safeties Tariq Drake and Alvin Floyd (nine combined PBUs, four combined interceptions). They probably won’t feel threatened by a Cowboys attack that goes into bowl season without its top pass catcher.

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