Following a week where the Miami RedHawks (6-4, 5-1 MAC) routed Bowling Green and earned their first outright MAC East title after Kent State’s comeback over Buffalo, the Red and White wrap up the home portion of the schedule Wednesday night when they host the Akron Zips (0-10, 0-6 MAC). Miami has won five of its last six contests while Akron has only been involved in one one-possession game this season, a 37-29 loss at UMass in September.
For the ‘Hawks, defense has been their calling card as the team has registered 20 sacks, 18 takeaways, and 8.2 TFLs per game this season. Travion Banks took home MAC East Defensive Player of the Week this week for hauling in a pair of interceptions against BG, while Doug Costin and Kameron Butler have terrorized offensive lines all season long with 18.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks between them.
Offensively, Miami had one of its best games of the season against the Falcons last week as it racked up 425 yards of offense. The ground game was highly effective as Jaylon Bester had 85 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries while the offensive line didn’t allow a TFL rushing the ball until after the game was decided in the second half. Brett Gabbert complemented the rushing attack with his most efficient game of the season as he went 9-15 for 225 yards, three scores, and an interception off of a tipped pass.
Meanwhile, Akron is coming off of a 42-14 loss against a solid Eastern Michigan squad last week and is looking forward to playing the potential spoiler this week. Kato Nelson didn’t have a terrible outing as he went for 288 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, but the running game was nonexistent with 2.3 yards per carry in the contest. The defense for the Zips complicated matters as the registered just one TFL in the whole game as EMU nearly had 500 yards of offense.
Miami has to work hard to avoid a letdown on Wednesday. It’s not hard to take Akron lightly (especially after clinching a division title), so Miami has to find a way to maintain its edge against a lesser opponent. The Zips are probably going to throw a few wrinkles in to catch Miami off guard since they have nothing to lose at this point in the season, so a lack of discipline could very well result in a dogfight.