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Ohio vs. San Diego State: Bobcats star QB Kurtis Rourke will start off ACL injury, spread drops

Saturday’s Week Zero to kick off the 2023 college football season isn’t all that interesting with five of the seven games featuring at spread of at least 7.5 points. In this writer’s opinion, the lone matchup that features a pair of potential conference champions is Ohio of the Mid-American Conference at San Diego State of the Mountain West. The Bobcats have announced that star QB Kurtis Rourke is healthy enough off a torn ACL to start, and that has dropped SDSU from a consensus favorite of -3.5 to -2.5.

Rourke, from near Toronto, was the 2022 MAC Offensive Player of the Year in throwing for 3,256 yards and 25 touchdowns to just four picks while rushing for 249 yards and four scores. He was one of only seven FBS quarterbacks to throw for at least 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns with a minimum 67.7 completion percentage.

Kurtis Rourke will return from an ACL injury for Ohio.

Rourke tore his ACL in a Nov. 15 game at Ball State. The #OUohyeah won that and would go on to the MAC title game but struggled offensively without Rourke in a 17-7 loss to Toledo. The team would finish 10-4 with an Arizona Bowl win over Wyoming. It was the Bobcats’ first 10-win season since 2011 and the fourth in program history. They have been picked to repeat as MAC East Division champions.

Ohio led the MAC in scoring at 31.8 ppg and brings back nine starters overall on that side of the ball including Rourke. The Bobcats covered their final eight regular-season games. However, Ohio is 1-7-1 ATS vs. non-conference opponents under Coach Tim Albin.

San Diego State always contends in the Mountain West and has won at least seven games in 12 straight seasons not including the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. The Aztecs’ six losses in 2022 were their most since 2018.

QB Jalen Mayden returns after taking over midway through last year following a shift from defensive back. He went 2-3 as the starting quarterback and tied for the most picks in the Mountain West with 10. The Aztecs struggled on the ground last year in averaging 143.2 yards per game, their fewest since 2009.

SDSU was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West this year but has ended up at or better than its predicted finish in 10 of the last 14 seasons. The Aztecs have failed to cover six in a row as home favorites.

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