RedHawks and Cardinals down to last chance
PREVIEW: BALL STATE AT MIAMI
Tuesday, Nov. 22 -- 7 p.m. ET -- ESPN+
The Miami RedHawks remain in the hunt for a red December thanks to their 29-23 victory over Northern Illinois last week. However, there is no room to spare as Miami still needs a sixth win to reach bowl eligibility. Standing in their way, however, is a Ball State team that is in the same position. The Cardinals are also 5-6 heading into Tuesday's finale.
Both teams are banged up, but there is . . .
. . . no tomorrow for the losing side. Even the winner will have to wait to see in a bowl invitation is extended.
Miami leads the all-time series against Ball State 21-13-1 and has won five of the last six meetings. The RedHawks are 12-6-1 against the Cardinals in Oxford, with three consecutive home victories in the series. Last year's tilt resulted in a 24-17 MU win as Sterling Weatherford picked off a Cardinals pass in the end zone with a minute to play.
Ball State QB Drew Plitt and Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert each threw two touchdown passes in last year's game. Plitt has gone on to pro work (and was recently drafted by the XFL's Arlington Renegades). Gabbert missed much of this year due to an injury in Week One. He came back to play in three games before getting injured again on Miami's last offensive play against Ohio Nov. 8. His availability for Tuesday is uncertain.
Here's more on the two teams . . .
MIAMI REDHAWKS (3-4 MAC, 5-6 OVERALL)
~~ The RedHawks ar coming off a 29-23 win at Northern Illinois. Freshman Aveon Smith, who started five games earlier this season during Gabbert's absence, was back at the helm against NIU.
~~ Down 10-0 early, Miami finally got on the board with a safety and added two second quarter TDs for a 16-10 lead at intermission. Smith provided both scores with runs of 10 and 15 yards.
Northern Illinois scored on aa 53-yard pass play early in the third quarter, but Miami responded with 10 straight points. Smith's 47-yard pass to Mac Hippenhammer gave MU a 26-17 edge. The Huskies quickly stru Hippenhammer ck back with an 86-yard TD run to pull within three, but Graham Nicholson's 24-yard field goal for Miami was the fourth quarter's only score.
~~ Smith completed 11-of-23 passes, goof for a total of 185 yards with one TD. Hippenhammer caught five balls totaling 105 yards with one TD.
~~ Miami, which had been struggling with its ground game in recent weeks, registered 171 rushing yards against Northern Illinois. Smith provided 105 of those on 20 carries. Two went for touchdowns.
~~ Turnovers and favorable field position have been part of MU's formula during wins this year. Punter Dom Dzioban had seven boots against NIU, averaging 42.4 ypk, with a; long of 63 yards. His 47-yard punt inside the Huskies five set up Miami's first quarter safety. Both teams had one turnover, but a John Saunders Jr. diving pick ended NIU's final drive at the RedHawks 18. Miami was then able to run out the remaining 4:43 with a nine-play drive.
~~ Miami ranks first in scoring defense (23.0 ppg), first in rushing defense (124.0 ypg), seventh in pass defense (244.5 ypg) and third in pass defense efficiency.
~~ The RedHawks offense is 10th in scoring (20.5 ppg), 12th/last in total offense (305.8 ypg), seventh in rushing (144.6 ypg) and 12th/last in passing offense (161.2 ypg). Generally speaking, MU is somewhat more pass oriented when Gabbert is at QB and more dangerous at rushing when Smith is behind center.
BALL STATE CARDINALS (3-4 MAC, 4-6 OVERALL)
~~ The Cardinals picked up win number five Nov. 1 when they defeated Kent State 27-20. Since then, they lost to MAC West champ Toledo and MAC East leader Ohio.
~~ Ball State registered three turnovers while forcing one from Ohio.
~~ The Bobcats outgained BSU 427-367 overall.
~~ Both teams serious injuries. Ohio lost Kevin Rourke, the MAC's leading passer, just before halftime. Ball State lost running back Carson Steele, who carried 14 times for 96 yards before leaving the game late in the second quarter. BSU finished the contest with 19 carries for 94 yards.
~~ John Paddock completed 29-of-48 attempts against Ohio, good for 273 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
~~ Brady Hunt led Ball State receivers with nine catches for 90 yards and a score. Three other players recorded at least five receptions.
~~ Amechi Uzodinma II picked off one Ohio pass, returning it 23 yards.
~~ Jaquan Amox and Clayton Coll combined for 21 tackles.
~~ RB Carson Steele is averaging 5.2 ypc this year. He has contributed 1,376 yards and 12 TDs.
~~ BSU ranks ninth among MAC teams in scoring. It is 10th in total offense (338.3 ypg), ninth in rushing (130.7 ypg), 10th in passing (207.6 ypg) and 11th in pass offense efficiency.
~~ The Cardinals defense ranks fitth among MAC teams in scoring (28.4 ppg), eighth in total defense (419.4 ypg), fifth against the run (176.4 ypg), 10th against the pass (243.0) and sixth in pass defense efficiency.
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.