MU must keep Falcon offense from going on roll
By MIKE SMITH
One of the week's top MAC games may be taking place in Oxford, where the Miami RedHawks host Bowling Green. To a certain extent, this will pit a very good Miami defense against a dangerous Bowling Green offense that may have found itself in last week's 38-27 road upset of Georgia Tech. The Falcons scored 38 straight points, generated 438 yards of offense and dominated much of that game.
One week earlier, the Ohio Bobcats held BGSU to 211 yards of offense and seven points in a 38-7 victory. The Falcons added to their burden by committing four turnovers against Ohio. It was a different story against Georgia Tech, as Bowling Green . . .
. . . played turnover-free football and forced three Yellow Jacket turnovers.
Bowling Green edged Miami 17-13 in last year's meeting. However, not only was that game played in Bowling Green, the RedHawks were without the services of veteran QB Brett Gabbert, who missed large parts of 2022 due to injury. Freshman Aveon Smith was forced into the starting role, significantly limiting what MU could do offensively. Gabbert is much more of a passer. Smith's skill set is strong on running. He had just 91 yards passing and a team-high 55 yards rushing against BGSU, which limited Miami to 189 yards of total offense.
-- Senior QB Connor Bazelak, a former Mizzouri Tiger player, completed 21 of 32 attempts, good for 263 yards with one TD against Georgia Tech. He has four TDs and five interceptions on the season.
-- Sophomore Terion Stewart (5-9, 225) topped Falcon rushers with 26 carries for 138 yards and one score.
-- Finn Hogan caught six calls totaling 102 yards with one TD. Ta'ron Keith and Austin Osborne grabbed four balls apiece, combining for 79 yards.
-- Deshawn Jones Jr. and Jordan Oladokun registered interceptions against GTU.
-- WR Odieu Hiliare has a catch in 40-straight games, which includes his career at Alabama A&M (2019-21). It is the sixth-best active streak in the nation. The Belle Glade, Fla., native has 177 career receptions for 2,311 career receiving yards and 21 receiving touchdowns.
-- The Bowling Green rushing attack has taken a big step forward into 2023. Bowling Green has 32 rushes of 10+ yards, which is 60 percent of its 2022 output of 53. BGSU’s 32 rushes of 10+ yards is No. 20 in the nation and No. 2 in the MAC (Toledo, 34).
-- Last week's win at Kent State pointed to a team strength - defense, particularly in the red zone. At least to date, no other MAC team can match Ohio's defensive numbers. However, the RedHawks are upper echelon on that side of the ball when healthy. Right now, the defense is relatively healthy for a mid-season matchup.
-- In addition to holding KSU to three points and 206 total yards, Miami recorded seven sacks and 11 TFL. Head Coach Chuck Martin regards his defensive front seven as particularly talented unit.
-- The potential is there for more turnovers. Recent foes have limited their risks, so it will be interesting to see what happens when some of the more aggressive MAC offenses test the RedHawks.
-- By and large, Gabbert's return this year has restored the passing game. However, his top target Gage Larvadain (formerly Southeastern Louisiana) was injured two weeks ago and missed last week's contest at Kent State. When he is in the lineup, Larvadain is a constant home run threat -- from any place on the field.
-- Transfers Joe Wilkins Jr. (Notre Dame) and Cade McDonald (Michigan State) took up some of the slack last week, combining for seven catches, 172 yards and one touchdown.
-- Although Miami had just 292 yards of total offense against KSU, Martin put the offense in low gear for the final quarter. Gabbert threw just one pass and even the runs were simple run-the-clock plays.
-- Rashad Amos, who carried 13 times for 54 yardds with one TD against the Flashes, has helped MU's run game between the tackles. He is averaging 4.8 ypc through five games.
-- Miami again has one of the top special teams units in the league. Graham Nicholson has hit all nine field goal attempts (long of 48) also all 16 PAT boots. Meanwhile, Alec Bevelhimer leads the league in punting (47.2 yards per boot), enabling MU to keep opponents at a distance when starting drives.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.