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2022 MAC Football Week 3 Game Preview: Ohio Bobcats vs. Iowa State Cyclones

The ‘Cats look to continue showing improvement against a prone Iowa State squad.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

This game features a couple of squads coming off of really physical games last week, looking to apply what they’ve learned to week three.

Ohio (1-1, 0-0 MAC) lost to 22nd-ranked Penn State last week, 46-10. While the game did not play out the way the ‘Cats had hoped on the scoreboard, there are some very clear indications in the first two weeks that the club is headed towards MAC play ready to make some noise in conference if they continue to improve.

Iowa State (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) comes into this one riding high after claiming the Cy-Hawk Trophy over rival Iowa Hawkeyes for the first time since September 2014.

The Cyclones and Hawkeyes slugged it out in a defensive struggle, where Iowa State won 10-7 after the Hawkeyes’ 48-yard field goal at the end of regulation was off the mark.

We take a look at both teams, but first, some notes.


  • Time and Date: Saturday, September 17, 2022, at 2:00PM Eastern
  • Networks: Big 12 Network/ESPN + (subscription required)
  • Radio/Streaming: Both teams can be heard via the Varsity Network App. Russ Eisenstein (Play-by-play) and Rob Cornelius (Color) on the Ohio call.
  • Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
  • Weather: Partly Sunny, 75 degrees. 10 percent chance of rain. Wind WNW 10 MPH, per The Weather Channel.
  • Spread/Total: Iowa State is a 18-point favorite.
  • All-time series: Iowa State leads, 7-0.

For Openers

Tim Albin returns for his second season as Ohio’s head coach and faces what could be the toughest non-conference stretch since his arrival as offensive coordinator at Ohio in 2005.

Ohio comes into 2022 with back-to-back games versus a couple strong power five schools, first PSU and now an underrated Cyclones squad, currently ranked 41st in the AP.

In 2005, the Bobcats opened the season versus Northwestern, Pitt, and Virginia Tech (4th in the AP Poll.) Ohio was able to declaw the Pitt Panthers that year in a 16-10 overtime thriller, keyed by a great overall defense featuring two pick sixes from Bobcat defensive back Dion Byrum.

Iowa State’s head coach is none other than former MAC foe Matt Campbell, who worked as part of the offensive staffs of Bowling Green and Toledo before being promoted to Toledo HC for 2012.

Campbell won 35 games in four years for the Rockets before accepting the job at Iowa State beginning 2016 and has since become one of the winningest coaches in Cyclone history. Campbell’s .560 winning percentage is the best of any Iowa State HC since Charles Mayser won .647 percent of his games from 1915-19.

Cyclones defensive coordinator Jon Heacock also has considerable MAC ties, notably as Kent State’s DC in 2012. That season, Heacock helped the Golden Flashes finish with an 11-3 record, reaching #17 in the BCS poll.

Matchup Notes

Cyclones’ run offense vs Bobcats run defense

The Bobcats find themselves in a similar predicament as last week because their opponents have some spectacular athletes and big guys in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

That being the case, the Bobcats have less room for error to keep game where they want it to be on the scoreboard. The whole affair starts with the Cyclones’ run offense versus the ‘Cats run defense.

The Cyclones are breaking in a new QB this year, lefty redshirt frosh Hunter Dekkers, and probably wouldn't mind leaning on the running game as Dekkers gets acclimated.

Iowa State lost their main RB after the 2021 season to the NFL draft, second round selection Breece Hall, but return a game RB in starter Jirehl Brock who has over 200 yards and a score the first two weeks.

Overall on the early season, the Bobcats run defense looks better than in 2021 although some explosive rushing plays around their left end took the wind out of their sails last week. PSU freshman phenom RB Nick Singleton had a lot to do with that as a 220 pound back with great speed broke three killer explosive plays on the ground.

Ohio’s defense needs to limit Brock’s explosive plays in the run game to make Iowa State work for points.

Ohio’s explosive defense versus Iowa State’s passing game

If the ‘Cats can keep the Cyclone’s running game in reasonable check, Ohio may be able to cash in on some big plays on pass defense.

One of the early season story lines for the Bobcats defense is the consistent QB pressure they have generated, ranking 12th in the NCAA with seven sacks and also adding eight QB pressures in just two weeks.

If Ohio can generate some pressure this week against a talented but inexperienced QB Dekkers who is only in his third start, it may pay dividends with some turnovers. So far in 2022, Dekkers has 477 yards, completing 72 percent of his passes, with five touchdown passes and three interceptions.

Patrolling the Bobcats’ secondary is an emerging player in Torrie Cox Jr. The redshirt freshman is of excellent pedigree with his father an NFL pro bowler. Over the first few weeks as a starter, Cox Jr. has shown he battles bigger than his five-foot-nine, 170 lbs.frame and has turned in some very effective coverage and PBUs.

Ohio v Penn State
Torrie Cox Jr. versus PSU
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

If Dekkers has time to throw, Cox Jr. and the ‘Cats secondary will have their hands full with Iowa State’s receiving corps, led by WR Xavier Hutchinson. The six foot-three first team All-Big 12 receiver is off to an explosive start this year, with 19 grabs for 226 yards and four scores.

Ohio’s offense versus Iowa State’s defense.

For the second week in a row, Ohio is facing off against an impressive set of d-lineman and linebackers.

The Cyclones feature multiple looks like a 3-4, 4-3, and 3-3-5, anchored by 2021 First-Team All-American DE Will McDonald. Ohio will have their hands full with the Cyclone DE, who comes into the contest with 29 career sacks.

Although Iowa State only returns three starters from 2021, some new starters have stepped up in 2022 like Delaware transfer Colby Reeder. In his first year with the Cyclones, Reeder has made splash plays from multiple LB and DE positions with nine stops, five QB pressures, two PBUs, and an INT.

As good McDonald and Reeder are, Ohio showed last week that they can limit a good pass rush as the ‘Cats held Penn State to just one sack last week.

If Ohio can keep the Cyclone’s pass rush at bay, they have the tools to put up some yards and points in the passing game. QB Kurtis Rourke leads the offense with 464 yards passing and four passing TDs. Rourke is also a factor in the running game, rushing for a TD and some critical yards in week one.

Rourke has an emerging group of receivers which may prove to be among the MAC’s best led by James Bostic, who has nine catches for 167 yards and a score coming into week three. WRs Tyler Walton and Sam Wiglusz also have nine catches each in 2022.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Ohio at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ohio typically shows more of a run/pass balance than they did last week versus PSU, with 14 more pass attempts than runs. Even when the score was close, the ‘Cats seemed to work more through the air than ground. If this game allows Ohio to go back to the run, they have an emerging RB in Sieh Bangura who might make some noise. In his first year as a starter, Bangura has 139 yards and a score for 4.6 yards per carry.

Special Teams

One area Iowa State is going to need to clean up is punt team, where Iowa blocked two punts last week. That may say more about Iowa’s talent on punt return team but we will see if Ohio is able to exploit anything there this week.


Ohio will march into Jack Trice Stadium having gained some valuable experience against a good team in a hostile environment. The Bobcats should be able to get more done offensively this week based on that experience.

The Bobcats have a real shot in this to keep it close if they can create some chaos on defense against a young QB and pick up a big play or two on special teams.

Look for a competitive game into the second half with the Bobcats cashing in on some explosive plays to pull the upset, 31-30.