Weeknight #MACtion returns tonight in Oxford, Ohio as the Miami RedHawks host the Bowling Green Falcons in a Mid-American Conference Eastern Division contest. This will be the 70th edition of this rivalry, which dates back to 1941. Since 1950, there have been only two years in which these two teams haven't faced each other -- 2002 and 2004. Miami leads the all-time series by nearly a 2:1 margin with a record of 42-22-5. However, the Falcons have won 12 of the last 21 meeting, including three of the four during head coach Dave Clawson's tenure. This will be the first time that Interim head coach Mike Bath will face BGSU in that role.
BGSU won last year's game in Bowling Green, 37-12. The last meeting in Oxford was also won by Bowling Green, with a final of 37-23. Miami's last win in the series was a 24-21 victory played in dense fog in Bowling Green during the 2010 season.
By The Numbers:
Bowling Green travels to Oxford with an overall record of 5-3 and a 3-1 record in MAC games. The Falcons are tied with Ohio for second place in the MAC's Eastern Division, and both teams are one game behind Buffalo in the standings. While Ohio and Buffalo also play tonight, Bowling Green will face both teams over the final three weeks of the season.
Miami is winless for the season with an 0-8 record and an 0-4 mark in the MAC. The RedHawks have come close, with two seven-point losses in their last three games. After tonight, Miami closes with games at Kent State, versus Buffalo at home, and at Ball State.
The Falcons are among the nation's leaders in several statistical categories. They lead the nation in red zone defense (.583 conversion rate) and are sixth in time of possession (33:53). They are also seventh in punt return average (16.7). Further, Bowling Green is in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (18.5; 13th) and passing defense (183.6; 11th). BGSU leads the MAC in all of these categories, as well as total defense, opponent first downs, and opponent fourth-down percentage.
With an 0-8 record, Miami's statistics and their place among the national rankings are as you may expect, but there are a couple of bright spots. Miami has just ten turnovers in eight games and has a total turnover margin of +5. That ranks fifth in the MAC. Punter Zac Murphy leads the nation with a 48.1 yard gross punting average. Out of his 54 punts in 2013, 19 have traveled at least 50 years, and 13 have been downed inside the opponent's 20 yard line. Also, two weeks ago, kicker Kaleb Patterson kicked a 52-yard field goal against Akron. That is tied for the fourth-longest field goal in Miami history.
Four Names To Know:
Austin Gearing: Gearing, a redshirt freshman, is Miami's leading rusher with 270 yards on 64 carries. He was also, until this week, Miami's backup quarterback. He and redshirt sophomore Drew Kummer will now inherit the starting role from fifth-year senior Austin Boucher, who was lost for the season after injuring his knee in Miami's most recent game at Ohio. Gearing and Kummer have combined for 16 career pass attempts at Miami. Gearing is 4-for-10 with just 23 yards, while Kummer is 2-for-6 with 29 yards. Clearly, if Miami is to have any chance of victory, Gearing will have to play a smart, efficient game.
Dayonne Nunley: Nunley is Miami's leader in the secondary. He is fourth on the team with 54 tackles and has one of Miami's eight interceptions. He also has ten pass break-ups; no one else on the team has more than three. In his four-year career as a RedHawk, Nunley has 13 interceptions and 35 pass break-ups, as well as 21 tackles for loss. He'll be one of the biggest keys to stopping the Bowling Green offense
Travis Greene: Greene ranks 12th nationally (and third in the MAC) in rushing with an average of 113.3 yards per game. He is also effective as a receiver out of the backfield and has 11 catches for 116 yards so far. He ranks sixth on the team in catches. Greene's presence is, in large part, what drives the Bowling Green offense. He has six total touchdowns, but more importantly, when he is able to run effectively, quarterback Matt Johnson is then able to execute play-action fakes that help drive the passing game. Greene is averaging 19 carries per game, so expect him to get another heavy dose of action this week.
Jerry "Boo Boo" Gates: Linebacker Gabe Martin was lost for the season after Bowling Green's loss to Toledo due to a knee injury. While Gates' role in the secondary was already important, his overall role in being a defensive leader is now even larger. It remains to be seen whether he will stay exclusively in the defensive backfield or if he will assume a role closer to a roving safety/linebacker combination, but in any event, his responsibility will increase. If BGSU is to continue its high level of play on defense, Gates must make plays.
How To Watch
Television: The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU. The broadcast will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET. Mark Neely (play-by-play) and David Diaz Infante (analyst) will call the game.
Online: If you are away from a television, you can access the game broadcast online through WatchESPN (ESPN3) or through the Watch ESPN app.
How To Listen:
If you prefer (or have) to listen by radio, here's how...
Bowling Green: The Falcon Radio Network will have the game, with Todd Walker (play-by-play) and John Gibson (analyst) on the call. You can access the live stream online HERE or tune to WFRO (99.1 FM, Fremont). There are also affiliates in Lima (93.1 FM, 940 AM), Toledo (100.7 FM), Defiance (1280 AM), Mansfield (102.3 FM), Ashland (107.7 FM) and Cleveland (1220 AM).
Miami: The Miami Sports Network will broadcast tonight's contest with Steve Baker (play-by-play), Tim Bray (analyst) and Terry Bridge (sideline). You can access the live stream online HERE or tune to WMOH (1450 AM, Hamilton). There are also affiliates in Richmond, Ind. (101.3 FM), Cincinnati (1230 AM) and Dayton (980 AM).