For being a senior and being the one body on Ohio’s roster for everybody to buy into the entire team before the season began, Nathan Rourke’s senior season just hasn’t gone the way many had hoped for.
Which, that’s totally understandable. Since the end of last season, Ohio’s offense lost two incredibly reliable running backs, two incredibly reliable offensive linemen [from the left side], and Rourke’s most-targeted receiver over the last two years. Seeing Rourke’s stats trend downward from what he put up last year isn’t a mystery.
Outside of the most important position on the field, the Bobcat offense looked different to start the year, and it took a while but I think the Bobcat offense has found some itself in more of a rhythm than it had before.
Ohio’s offensive yards per play (vs. FBS only)
- First three games: 5.75
- Last four games: 6.44
Nathan Rourke career stats (vs. FBS only)
|Pass %||Y/A||TD-INT||Rush Avg.||Rush TD||
Yards per play
After needing 45 points to fend off Kent State in a crucial MAC East showdown the week before, the rain forced both Ohio and Ball State to run the ball with efficiency and explosion to win. Rourke and O’Shaan Allison had 18 carries each, both for over 100 yards on the road, having to out-duel Walter Flecther from Ball State who had a career day of his own (14 carries, 156 yards, 1 TD). For Rourke, it was his first 100+ yard game since the Marshall loss.
Receiving, which was hard with the constant rainfall, Isiah Cox stepped up with five catches for 92 yards, and helped move the chains for Ohio to score, even if he didn’t get one himself.
Two teams had to play in the rain, though, and Ball State wasn’t able to get the most out of its playmakers in the must-win game. Drew Plitt didn’t complete a pass until the second half, which means Riley Miller, Justin Hall, and Antwan Davis were limited in their roles, and Caleb Huntley didn’t have the day he had hoped for either (6 carries, 12 yards, fumbled it away on the first play of the game).
Ohio ended up taking down the team I put at No. 1 last week, the fourth MAC team to make it up there, but the Bobcats will sit at No. 2 just behind Western Michigan back at the top spot. The Cardinals are now in third place, still ahead of Toledo and Central Michigan.
Here’s how the rest of my list looks:
MAC Prospectus Power Rankings (thru Week 9)
1. WMU (last week: 2)
2. Ohio (4)
3. Ball State (1)
4. Toledo (5)
5. CMU (3)
6. Miami (8)
7. Kent State (6)
8. EMU (7)
9. Buffalo (11)
10. NIU (9)
11. BGSU (10)
Considering Ohio giving Ball State its first MAC loss, Miami giving Kent State its second-straight MAC loss, and Buffalo thrashing CMU by 23, it’s no wonder that there were so many adjustments made to this list. The only team I didn’t move was Akron from its No. 12 spot because, well, Akron’s just really bad. Akron hasn’t won a game in over a calendar year, dear reader. Hasn’t scored a touchdown since the UMass game, either.
CMU losing to Buffalo big is fairly significant, but moreso for the standings than the power rankings. I don’t totally buy into CMU’s 5-4 season so far since its two best wins are over EMU and (probably) Albany. But unless you’re new here, reader, you should know that I like to see how a particular win or loss transcends through the two or three games that follow before I move teams too much in either direction. Still, CMU was bumped from 3 to 5 (just above Miami) and Buffalo went up from 11 to 9 (above NIU, but below Eastern Michigan). Buffalo at Week 10 might be a better team than CMU at Week 10 even though that wasn’t proven in the first nine weeks, but the gap in the rankings based on the seasons they’ve had feels fair, but I’m willing to listen to arguments in Buffalo’s favor.