The annual "Battle of the Bricks" resumes as long-time Mid-American Conference rivals Miami (Ohio) and Ohio will meet in Peden Stadium for some mid-week MACtion. Miami leads the all-time series with Ohio, 54-40-2. This will be the first meeting between the two teams in nearly two years as last season's scheduled game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The RedHawks have won the last two matchups.
Miami enters this game 4-4 overall but 3-1 in MAC play, tied with Kent State for first place in the East Division. The RedHawks have won two in a row, the most recent being a 24-17 victory over defending conference champion Ball State on Oct. 23. After that game, Miami head coach Chuck Martin was asked about making the transition to an early mid-week game. “We'll get a chance to heal some wounds and mentally recharge," he said. "We'll get our classes in order. It's nice to have the extra three days. We'll be overly prepared for Ohio."
Ohio (1-7, 1-3) is struggling as it makes the transition from Frank Solich, the winningest coach in MAC history, to Tim Albin. The Bobcats have lost three in a row, all conference games, by a total of 11 points.
Following a disappointing, 34-27 loss to Kent State last time out, Albin said, "I am optimistic with this coaching staff and this football team... We have not used those things to get them to play their best, it’s been more about the process and let’s get better every day and gradually build up to play our best game on Saturday. There are going to be challenges, but I really feel like our culture and the players we have will fight."
Miami (Ohio) at Ohio
Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Miami -7
When Miami (Ohio) Has the Ball
The RedHawks have relied on two quarterbacks and it's been a fairly productive duo. Collectively, Brett Gabbert and AJ Mayer have combined for 1,889 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. Gabbert has missed a couple of games due to injury, but he made the start against Ball State on Oct. 23 and was extremely efficient, completing 20 of 24 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Mayer has done his part when called into action (946 yds., 6 TDs, 2 INTs) but the Miami's passing game seems to have a little more explosiveness when it's Gabbert under center.
On the ground, the RedHawks are young with their four top rushers all freshmen. Keyon Mozee leads the way with 342 yards and four touchdowns, but he's far from the only one getting the carries. Five other running backs and the two quarterbacks have logged at least 13 rushing attempts. Overall, Miami is averaging 149 rushing yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. There have only been eight rushing touchdowns, however, the third-fewest total in the MAC.
The RedHawks aren't scoring a lot of points overall (23.8 ppg, ninth in conference) but Ohio has had a little more trouble stopping opponents in this respect (31.1 ppg allowed, ninth). The Bobcats have one of the worst rushing defenses in the entire country, giving up 224.5 yards per game, while allowing 202.5 per contest through the air. So it will bear watching to see how Miami chooses to attack Ohio's defense on Tuesday night.
When Ohio Has the Ball
It has been a struggle for the Bobcats on offense this season, especially when it comes to throwing the ball. But quarterback Kurtis Rourke is coming off his most productive game as a passer, completing 31 of 38 attempts for 308 yards in the close loss to Kent State on Oct. 23. He did throw an interception and has four of those to go with his four touchdowns. Overall, Ohio is second to last in the MAC in passing offense at 167 yards per game with more picks (five) than touchdowns (four).
The Bobcats have had more success on the ground, averaging 194 rushing yards per game (fourth in MAC) with 15 touchdowns in eight games. De'Montre Tuggle (553 yds., 6.1 ypc, 5 TDs) and O'Shaan Allison (303 yds.) are the top two running backs but both Rourke and backup quarterback Amani Rogers, a graduate transfer from UNLV, are both capable of making things happen with their legs as well. Rogers leads the team with six rushing touchdowns (Rourke has three) and is averaging a robust 6.6 yards per carry.
Miami is second in the MAC in scoring defense (22.3 ppg) and third in total defense (349.9 ypg), so this doesn't appear to be a great matchup on paper for Ohio's offense. The RedHawks also have done a good job against the run (139 ypg, third), so it will be interesting to see what the Bobcats' game plan entails.
Ohio has been so close this season but still has just one win to show for it. Miami has won three of its last four and seems to be finding its rhythm. This is a rivalry game so oftentimes the records don't matter, but the RedHawks should have enough to win a close contest in Athens to keep them at the top of the MAC East standings.
Prediction: Miami (Ohio) 24, Ohio 21
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