RedHawks seek MAC momentum at Bowling Green
By MIKE SMITH
After bouncing back from a damaging loss at Buffalo with a win over Kent State last week, the Miami RedHawks will seek to stay in the win column Saturday as they battle Bowling Green at the Falcons nest (Doyt L. Perry Stadium).
Nothing is guaranteed, especially on the road. Just ask Marshall University, who beat Notre Dame in South Bend one week, only to lose at Bowling Green the following Saturday. That overtime victory is one of two wins by the Falcons this season. They also edged Akron (on the road) two weeks ago. Like the RedHawks, BGSU is 1-1 in MAC play.
SERIES VS. THE FALCONS
Miami leads the all-time series 46-24-5 and has won four of the last five matchups. The RedHawks are 8-1 in their last nine trips to BGSU, including a 38-23 win in their most recent visit (2018).
Miami scored 34 unanswered points and defeated Bowling Green 34-7 in November 2021 to become bowl-eligible, extending the RedHawks’ Yager Stadium winning streak to 14 games. The Red and White sacked the Falcons eight times in the victory. Tyre Shelton ran for two scores and Brett Gabbert threw a pair of touchdowns to lead the Miami offense.
Here's more on the two teams . . .
BOWLING GREEN FALCONS (2-4, 1-1 MAC)
>> The Falcons returned last Saturday after two weeks on the road. They went 1-1 on that road trip, finishing with a 31-28 victory at Akron. Last week, MAC-undefeated Buffalo came to northwest Ohio and cruised to a 38-7 victory at BGSU.
>> The Falcons committed four turnovers, while UB recorded one. Among the BGSU turnovers was a 97-yard fumble return that started as a fake field goal.
>> Bowling Green scored the game's final points, with Matt McDonald hitting Ta'ron Keith from 11-yards out. Mason Lawler added the PAT.
>> Buffalo owned a 466-380 edge in total yardage and had one more first down (20-19).
>> Falcon quarterback Matt Snyder completed 21 of 42 attempts for a total of 281 yards with one TD and one interception.
>> McDonald is tied for first among MAC quarterbacks in passing touchdowns (14). He is 10th in completion percentage (55.8%), fifth in passing avrage (243.6 ypg) and fifth in passing efficiency (131.8).
>> Senior CJ Lewis (6-3, 215) and Odieu Hiliare (6-0, 180) top Falcon receivers. They have a combined 38 catches, good for 515 yards and six touchdowns. Eight BGSU players have at least one touchdown reception.
>> Bowling Green averaged 3.4 ypc while producing 99 yards on the ground against Buffalo. Jaison Patterson led the way with three carries for 42 yards. He tops all Falcon rushers on the year with 45 carries for 191 yards and a score.
>> The Falcons have 13-different players who have recorded at least one full sack this season. That is the most in the nation. Bowling Green's 22 team sacks lead the MAC and are No. 4 in the nation. The Falcons are second nationally with eight fumble recoveries.
>> DL Karl Brooks is one of two players in the nation with 22+ tackles, 7.5+TFL, 4.5+ sacks, 2+ pass breakups and at least one fumble recovery. Linebacker JB Brown is No. 2 in the national and No. 1 in the MAC with three forced fumbles, two of which game inside BG's 5-yard line against Marshall.
>> TE Christian Sims in No. 8 nationally among tight ends with 4.0 catches per contest.
MIAMI REDHAWKS (3-3, 1-1 MAC)
>> Brett Gabbert passed for 227 yards and two TDs with one interception in last year's 34-7 Miami win over BGSU. However, the junior won't be available after sustaining a possible season-ending injury in the RedHawks opener at Kentucky. Aveon Smith has been at the helm since, with the freshman giving MU more of a run threat. Smith had a 73-yard touchdown run at Buffalo and his 31-yard scamper last week allowed Miami to keep the ball on its final clock-consuming drive to seal a RedHawks win over Kent State.
>> As a passer, Smith connected on 9 of 14 attempts for 179 yards with one interception against KSU. Two of his nine completions were key plays -- a 76-yard pass to Miles Marshall and a 41-yard sideline pass to Jack Coldiron. Both set up Miami touchdowns. Smith also sealed MU's victory with a 16-yard completion to Coldiron on fourth and six. "I know he's open, but you've got to hit him," Miami Head Coach Chuck Martin said. "The game is on the line."
>> Especially after the loss of Gabbert, Miami has worked hard to improve its overall run game. The RedHawks ran 50 times for 236 yards (4.7 ypc) and rushed for three touchdowns last Saturday. MU is now third among MAC teams in rushing (181.0 ypg).
>> Kevin Davis and Smith combined for 18 carries, 143 yards and 1 score against Buffalo. That touchdown was a 41-yard burst off the right side by Davis.
>> Former Penn State receiver Mac Hippenhammer has been Miami's top receiver. He has 22 catches for 314 yards and four of MU's six receiving catches.
>> The kicking game has been a Miami strength. Punter Dom Dzioban is second (MAC) with an average of 44.1 yards per boot. The sophomore's first kick last week covered 59 yards and pinned KSU at its own 1-yard line. Meanwhile, placekicker Graham Nicholson hit two crucial field goals from long distance (49 and 45 yards). "Special teams was huge," Martin said. He also noted the RedHawks had a "huge play" on punt returns when MU recovered a muffed reception. "We're sitting right there. He drops it, and we've got four guys waiting to pounce on it."
>> While the offense has been a work in progress, Miami has overcome some significant personnel losses on defense to again rank among the MAC's upper echelon. The RedHawks are first in scoring defense (25.2 ppg), first in total defense (351.2 ypg), first in rushing defense (88.8 ypg) and seventh against the pass (262.3 ypg). MU is third in pass defense efficiency.
>> Linebacker Ryan McWood returned this year and has overcome injury to rank third among MAC defenders, registering an average of 10.6 tackles per game. Matthew Salopek is sixth (MAC) in sacks and eighth in tackles (8.3 tpg).
>> In year’s past, when the RedHawks won the opening coin toss, head coach Chuck Martin would defer to the second half. This season, the RedHawks have won five coin tosses and chose to receive the ball to start the contest. Miami has scored on three of those five opening possessions, including touchdowns to begin the game at Kentucky and Cincinnati. In all, Miami has started all six contests this season with the ball.
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.