Ohio State football: Bowl season kicks off with a state of Ohio feel

The 2023/24 bowl season seems overshadowed by all the transfer portal news, but there are reasons to watch the opening day of bowl season.
Ohio State v Rutgers
Ohio State v Rutgers / Elsa/GettyImages

Bowl season used to be a wonderful time of year on the sports calendar. With the popularity of the College Football Playoffs and the emergence of the transfer portal, bowl season seems less important. That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to watch the opening day of bowl season today if you are an Ohio State football fan. Here are four reasons to tune in even though the Buckeyes aren’t playing until December 29.

Ohio University vs Georgia Southern (12 pm EST. on ESPN)

The Ohio University Bobcats get the bowl season kicked off with a 12 pm eastern start against the Georgia Southern Eagles in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. OU is 9-3 on the season while the Eagles went 6-6.

Outside of the fact that the Bobcats reside in Athens, Ohio, they also have a former Buckeye on their roster. Wide receiver Sam Wiglusz, a former walk-on at Ohio State had 51 receptions for 596 yards and three scores this season for the Bobcats. During his time at Ohio State as a walk-on, Wiglusz had three receptions for 25 yards while wearing the Scarlet and Gray.

The Bobcats have 57 players on their roster from the state of Ohio. While not all of them are scholarship athletes, this alone is a reason to be a Bobcat backer today as the bowl games get underway. Ohio University is a 2.5-point underdog despite having the better record.

Miami of Ohio vs Appalachian State (3:30 pm EST. on ABC)

Keeping with the state of Ohio theme, the Miami of Ohio RedHawks enter bowl season having had one of their better seasons in a while. Miami finished their 2023 regular season with a record of 11-2 and a MAC championship, defeating instate foe Toledo by a score of 23-24 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan only two weeks ago. Standing in their way at the Cure Bowl from Orlando, Florida is 8-5 Appalachian State.

Linebacker Jackson Kuwatch was a walk-on with the Ohio State football team last season before transferring to Miami for the 2023 season. He had five tackles this year after recording none last year while wearing the scarlet and gray.

The RedHawks have a roster filled with kids from the great state of Ohio as well with 36 who grew up or attended high schools in the Buckeye state. The Mountaineers have two student-athletes on their roster from the state of Ohio, both of whom played their high school ball in Cincinnati. They also have a former RedHawk who transferred to them in fifth-year redshirt junior punter Connor Maynard. Miami is a 6.5-point underdog despite having the better record this season and winning.

Fresno State vs New Mexico State (5:30 pm EST. on ESPN)

I know what you are thinking. How could two teams from west of the Mississippi River have anything to do with Ohio State? Well, believe it or not, the Fresno State Bulldogs actually have a former Buckeye who has had a great year for them.

Westerville, Ohio product Jaelen Gill will be playing in his final college football game when the 8-4 Bulldogs go up against the 10-4 Aggies. Gill, who transferred to Boston College after playing two seasons at Ohio State in 2018 and 2019, ended up transferring a second time using his super senior status to play one final season in college.

Gill, who was a high four-star top 100 recruit in the class of 2018, never quite reached the high expectations placed on him by the recruiting services. He was the fourth-highest recruit from the state of Ohio that year based on 247Sports’ composite rankings, but after hardly seeing the field in Columbus, decided to further his career at Boston College.

This year has undoubtedly been his best statistically, being one of the team leaders in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Gill will look to cap off his career with a New Mexico Bowl victory.  The Bulldogs are 3.5-point underdogs against the Aggies.

Boise State vs UCLA (7:30 pm EST. on ABC)

Once again, these rosters don’t exactly have a state of Ohio theme to them. But one of these two teams will officially become a member of the Big Ten in 2024.

UCLA, who went 7-5 on the season, will be playing their final game as a member of the Pac-12 later today when they play 8-5 Boise State in the LA Bowl. Given the way the transfer portal has wrecked many rosters, this game won’t offer the advanced scouting for Big Ten and Ohio State fans, like many enjoy doing against future opponents during bowl season. However, it is still fun to imagine those powder blue uniforms and gold helmets matching up against Big Ten schools next season.

Next. Next story. Ohio State basketball tries to bounce back against UCLA. dark

Despite the fact UCLA’s starting quarterback is in the transfer portal and Chip Kelly is on the hot seat, the Bruins are a 4.5-point favorite in this contest. After the conclusion of the game, you can officially begin to follow the UCLA football team as a member of the Big Ten Conference.