It is the second week of true #MACtion and we have a meaningful MAC East match-up on tap for Wednesday as the division-leading Miami RedHawks (5-4, 4-1 MAC) host the Bowling Green Falcons (3-6, 2-3 MAC). Miami is coming off of its biggest win of the season after outlasting the Ohio Bobcats 24-21, while the Falcons got a confidence-boosting 35-6 victory over the Akron Zips.
The ‘Hawks have won three straight one-possession games, thanks in large part to their play on defense. During that stretch, the unit has recorded 31 TFLs, eight sacks, and three takeaways. Doug Costin has been a force on the defensive line, especially against Ohio as he generated seven tackles, five QB hurries, two TFLs, and a fumble recovery.
Meanwhile, Miami’s offense has been one that thrives on big plays in 2019. Going back to the Ohio game, two of the biggest plays of the night were Jaylon Bester’s 45-yard scoring run and the 63-yard completion from Brett Gabbert to James Maye. However, the ‘Hawks have to be more efficient on third down to sustain drives and limit opponent possessions (7-24 over the last two weeks).
On the other side, it’s hard to get a feel for Bowling Green because of their MAC wins coming against a depleted Toledo team and a hapless Akron squad. In last week’s game against the Zips, the defense was disruptive as they forced 13 TFLs, six sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Karl Brooks had himself a day with 2.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.
Offensively, BG stayed dedicated to the running game against Akron as it rushed the ball 62 times for 156 yards and four touchdowns. Andrew Clair and Bryson Denley accounted for 148 of those yards and three scores while Grant Loy didn’t have to do much throwing the ball as he went 12-20 for 113 yards and a touchdown.
For Miami to win Wednesday night, Miami has to stay on the field on third down and avoid turnovers. Bowling Green simply doesn’t have the firepower on offense to score on a regular basis against Miami, and the only way that the Falcons have a shot is if they force turnovers and get good field position. Defensively, the RedHawks have to take away the running game away from a team that could only muster 2.5 yards per carry against a winless Akron team. If the ‘Hawks are able to keep their edge and play the way they’re capable of playing, they will be one step closer to representing the East Division in Detroit in the MAC Championship game.