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Offensive Players to Watch: Iowa State @ Ohio

Who can outsling who?

Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

\With the NFL ramping up and watching some pretty ugly games all weekend, I have confidence we are going to see at least someone (hopefully I don’t curse them) show up in front of a potentially maxed-out crowd of *checks notes* 24,000 fans.

Iowa State: Jayden Higgins

Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Jayden Higgins needs to be in the conversation of being WR1 when his competition for that spot is Jaylin Noel, who has struggled mightily with drops as of late. Yes, it’s a small sample size at Iowa State with this being his first season with us after transferring from Eastern Kentucky, but I’m getting really sick of dropped catchable passes (Chiefs fans know).

He only totaled a single reception for 15 yards in another bland season-opening day of Iowa State football. Last weekend though, Jayden seemed to be the go-to guy when we needed a play. His fourth quarter touchdown gave us a sense of hope of pulling a win out of a hat, but that obviously fell apart. He was clearly intended to be a larger part of the offense in week two and it showed. He ended the game with 8 receptions for a total of 95 yards and that lonely touchdown with Jaylin Noel tying him in receptions with just over half the yardage.

Last season he was second on a list of three wide receivers that went over 750 yards and led Eastern Kentucky with 10 receiving touchdowns. With the linebacker core that Ohio has as well as their safeties, it’s going to be a rough passing game for sure. If Rocco and Jayden can keep building chemistry after facing the best defense on Iowa State’s schedule, I have faith that they can bounce back after last weekend's loss.

“An” Ohio University: Kurtis Rourke

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 26 Ohio at San Diego State Photo by Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sorry, had to make some form of joke about “the” Ohio State. Kurtis Rourke is arguably the most talented player on this roster. After a pretty mediocre beginning of his career, Kurtis took off last season for the Ohio Bobcats going 244-for-353 (69%, nice), 3,256 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, to only 4 interceptions. He didn’t scramble much, with 74 carries getting him to 249 yards and 4 touchdowns on his resume.

The crucial factor with Rourke is how healthy he will be come Saturday. When Ohio was playing Ball State in November of 2022, Kurtis threw 12-for-16 for 169 yards and a touchdown before he suffered a torn ACL. It sidelined him for the last three games of last year and Ohio coaches were playing it safe with him in practice. Fast forward to their season opener against San Diego State and at the very end of the first quarter, he got sacked and was slow to get up.

The final report was he had some lower back pain and sat out the rest of the game as well as their game against Long Island University before finally returning to the lineup against FAU. He ended that game going 18-for-29 with 203 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Even if Rourke is still a bit hobbled, his talent is something Jon Heacock will have to account for on Saturday.