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2017 Week 10 Preview: Miami at Ohio

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Bobcats and RedHawks kick off midweek MACtion on ESPN2 Tuesday

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night marks two significant events. First, it’s Halloween! So I hope you have worked enough on your Scary Frank Solich or Jinks-enstein MAC-themed costume. It also marks the start of our almost exclusively weeknight football schedule, with the Miami-Ohio Redhawks and the Ohio University Bobcats getting going with the 94th Battle of the Bricks when Miami travels to in-state rival Ohio’s Peden Stadium in Athens at 8PM.

And this one is meaningful for a whole host of reasons beyond winning a game over your rival. The contest is crucial for both schools in the MAC East race. A Miami win would move the RedHawks to 3-2 in the MAC with the tie breaker over the Bobcats and a contest with Akron (currently 3-1 in the MAC) the following week. For Ohio, currently 6-2 (3-1 MAC) they are still in control of their own destiny for the MAC East and a win Tuesday is crucial to maintaining that.

When Ohio has the ball...

Ohio is a balanced offensive football team, behind quarterback Nathan Rorke. Rourke has made a habit of finding the end zone with 13 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing TDs this season. Rourke leads the MAC in scoring touchdowns averaging 9.8 per game. Rourke has rushed for three touchdowns on three different occasions this season and accounted for four total touchdowns at Bowling Green. Ohio also racked up 300-plus rushing yards for two weeks in a row with a 336 against Kent State and 335 against Bowling Green. The Bobcats haven't posted back-to-back 300-plush rushing games since 2015. Ohio is averaging 243.4 rushing yards per game, which leads the Mid-American Conference.

Should Ohio find themselves in the red zone, the sledding may get a bit tougher than they are used to. Miami’s red zone defense has been stellar this season. Through eight games Miami has allowed just 21 trips into the red zone and in those 21 trips allowed nine touchdowns (.429) and 15 total scores (.714) while forcing three turnovers. Overall, Miami’s red zone defense ranks 14th in the country

When Miami has the ball...

As has been the case with more than a few MAC squads this season, the RedHawks are finding themselves with a backup QB taking snaps after an injury to their starter. When Gus Ragland was hurt, Billy Bahl stepped in, and nearly led Miami to a come-from-behind victory over BGSU. Last week he threw for 177 yards in the win over Buffalo, Miami’s first win without Gus Ragland as its starting quarterback since the season finale at UMass in 2015. Miami is a balanced offensive attack, ranking 5th in the conference in both passing and rushing.

Ohio is a stellar run defense, ranks second in the MAC, and has held opponents to 126.1 yards per game and eight rushing touchdowns. Ohio has held its opponents to under 70-yards rushing three times this season.They are 9th in the conference against the pass, so Bahl may have opportunities to take shots and find moments. Ohio’s defense is one of the best in the conference, and it shows statistically.

Overall thoughts and prediction...

This is the classic trap game. For Miami, their back is against the wall with just a slimmer of hope to be in the running for the division. It’s a rivalry game to boot. For Ohio, they have monster games in the next two weeks against Toledo and Akron. Though Ohio is disciplined and talented, it’s hard to not look past the (on paper) sub-par RedHawks. If Solich can keep the Bobcats focused, they should roll, but odd things happen in rivalry games on Halloween.

Prediction:
Miami RedHawks 17
Ohio Bobcats 27