In a typical year, the entire MAC kicks off its season Labor Day weekend. But in 2023 there’s an exception.
The Ohio Bobcats get a head start on their 2023 campaign by partaking in Week 0 action. They’ll travel several time zones west for a road matchup at San Diego State on Saturday, Aug. 26. The game will kick off at college football’s newest venue in Snapdragon Stadium, which opened its doors last September for the Aztecs’ home opener. The date was solidified Wednesday, but the kickoff time is to be determined.
This marks the first time a MAC team has participated in the ever-growing phenomenon of Week 0 since 2004. That season, Miami (OH) defeated FCS opponent Indiana State 49-0 to close the month of August, but no other MAC program has suited up prior to Week 1. The matchup at Snapdragon Stadium is one of seven announced Week 0 matchups between FBS teams.
Ohio and San Diego State previously squared off in the 2018 Frisco Bowl, where the Bobcats pitched a 27-0 shutout over the Aztecs. Both teams have since undergone head coaching changes since, as Frank Solich and Rocky Long voluntarily stepped down from their positions and internally promoted assistant coaches Tim Albin and Brady Hoke, respectively. With revamped coaching staffs and personnel, this Week 0 showdown in Southern California is the second-ever meeting between the programs.
Ohio is fresh off tying its winningest season in program history in a 10-4 season. The Bobcats’ most recent matchup was a victory over fellow Mountain West opponent Wyoming in the Arizona Bowl, where backup quarterback CJ Harris completed a 10-yard walk-off touchdown to tight end Tyler Foster in overtime. Ohio hopes to sustain that momentum into this opener under third-year head coach Tim Albin, who served as offensive coordinator during the Bobcats’ 2018 Frisco Bowl win over the Aztecs. Meanwhile, San Diego State is fresh off a 7-6 season which saw a nail-biting loss to Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl.
For this Week 0 matchup, the Bobcats hope to be led by quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who suffered an ACL injury on Nov. 15 in the midst of a 32-18 victory over Ball State. Rourke won MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors after a breakthrough season featuring 3,256 passing yards, 25 touchdown strikes, and only four interceptions while playing a major role in elevating Ohio to its first MAC Championship Game appearance since 2016.
The full MAC schedule has yet to be released, but Ohio is slated to return home to Peden Stadium to host Long Island of the FCS in Week 1. The Bobcats conclude their non-conference schedule with a Week 2 road trip to Florida Atlantic and a Week 3 home game against Iowa State — two familiar opponents from the 2022 schedule.