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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 5 Game Notes: Miami RedHawks at Central Michigan Chippewas

For the first time since a trophy was on the line in 2019, the RedHawks and Chippewas meet on the gridiron.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 MAC Championship Game Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Central Michigan (2-2) will open the MAC season on the road, traveling down to Oxford, Ohio to face Miami (1-3), facing one another two years removed from their last meeting, which had a trophy on the line.

Here are the details for how to watch the game:

  • Date and Time: Saturday, October 2nd at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Network/Streaming: ESPN+ (A valid subscription is required for viewing)
  • Location: Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio
  • Weather: Partly Sunny, with a high of 77 degrees
  • Line: CMU is a 1.5-point favorite, with an over/under of 56.5, per DraftKings Sportsbooks.
  • Series History: Miami retains the all-time lead at 15-13-1, with a three-game winning streak dating back to 2016.
  • Last Meeting: Miami won the whole shebang after holding off a furious CMU comeback by a final score of 26-21 on Dec. 6, 2019.

Miami RedHawks

Miami-Ohio v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Offense

  • Points Per Game: 23 (101st out of 130 FBS teams)
  • Yards Per Game: 343.5 (107th)

Defense

  • Points Per Game Allowed: 27.5 (86th)
  • Yards Per Game Allowed: 357.2 (66th)

Notable Players

  • QB Brett Gabbert: 35-of-70, 565 yards, five touchdowns; 15 rush, 75 yards
  • QB AJ Meyer: 20-of-41, 279 yards, one touchdown, one interception; 11 rush, 23 yards, one touchdown
  • RB Keyon Monzee: 22 carries, 128 yards
  • WR Jack Sorenson: 15 receptions, 263 yards, two touchdowns
  • DB Sterling Weatherford: 25 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, one interception, two pass break-ups
  • DB Mike Brown: 23 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, three pass break-ups
  • LB Ivan Pace Jr.: 34 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, two QB hits

Central Michigan Chippewas

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Central Michigan at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Offense

  • Points Per Game: 30.2 (63rd out of 130 FBS Teams)
  • Yards Per Game: 464.5 (27th)

Defense

  • Points Per Game Allowed: 27.5 (86th)
  • Yards Per Game Allowed: 374.5 (43rd)

NOTABLE PLAYERS

  • QB Daniel Richardson: 28-of-46 for 437 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions
  • RB Lew Nichols III: 73 carries, 384 yards, two touchdowns; 14 receptions, 104 yards, one touchdown
  • WR JaCorey Sullivan: 18 receptions, 281 yards, five touchdowns
  • WR Dallas Dixon: 21 receptions, 297 yards, four touchdowns
  • DL Troy Hairston II: nine tackles, four tackles-for-loss, three sacks, two QB hits
  • DL Amir Siddiq: 12 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, one sack
  • LB Troy Brown: 20 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, three pass break-ups, QB hit
  • S Devonni Reed: 16 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, one interception, two pass break-ups, one blocked kick

Intrigue abounds in what could be a revenge game— or an extension of a thorny cross-divisional rivalry between Miami and Central Michigan.

Miami will certainly be relieved to be back in the familiar arms of conference play, something they didn’t really get very many opportunities to do in 2020. In many ways, this is still more or less the 2019 squad which won the MAC title with a 7-5 record, coming out of nowhere to win the MAC East division.

But there are a number of differences this go-around, mainly that the Miami run game has simply struggled to get going, producing a measly 132.5 yards per game for a game plan which relies on a solid run game to score efficiently and help their defense hold pressure on the possession changes.

2019 MAC Freshman of the Year Brett Gabbert has also been hurt for much of the non-conference season, completing 50 percent of his passes against a fairly solid slate of opponents. It’s forced a sort of rotation with backup AJ Meyer, who has spelled Gabbert in all four contests.

Defensively, the RedHawks have been simply gouged in the running game, averaging 211 yards per game allowed, including 384 yards to Army West Point last week. Despite taking their licks on the run, Miami has been nothing but solid in pass coverage, limiting teams to just 146.2 yards per game with a strong defensive backfield, which includes all-MAC DB Sterling Weatherford, Mike Brown and Jack Salopnik.

The RedHawks didn’t put up their best effort against Army last Saturday, failing to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter in a 23-10 route, securing Miami’s current 1-3 season. It was a disjointed effort which saw the offense take two sacks, four tackles-for-loss and an interception against a program with one of the strongest and unique offenses in the FBS.

CMU also returns a lot of their contributors who played in the 2019 campaign, especially at the skill positions on offense.

Daniel Richardson will get his first start of the 2021 season against Miami after a stellar bullpen appearance vs. FIU, where he threw for three touhdowns and over 200 yards to complete a 17-point comeback to win the game. He’ll have three dependable receivers to haul in passes, including JaCorey Sullivan, Dallas Dixon and Kalil Pimpleton, as well as a veritable arsenal of rushing options to choose from, headlined by Lew Nichols III, who has handled lead back duties just fine after replacing Kobe Lewis (ACL.)

Defensively, CMU will give any team they face a hard day at the office, with one of the more ferocious defensive lines in the country, with MAC co-Defensive Player of the Year Troy Hairston II leading the way from the end spot. Thomas Incoom, Amir Siddiq and John Wesley Whiteside are major contributors as well. It’s a defensive line unit which has a third-down conversion rating of 22.1 percent, the fourth-best in the country, and has forced 38 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks.

The secondary has plenty of holes, however, especially at the outside corners, where freshmen Donte Kent and DaeDae Hill are expected to start at the position on Saturday afternoon. The Chips are one of the worst pass contain units, ranking 114th in FBS with 276.8 passing yards allowed per game on average. It’s a problem which has plagued CMU dating back to 2020, where they finished as a bottom 10 defense in the category.

It’ll be an evenly-matched game, with two teams who have historically played one another fairly close. Miami has won the last three games against Central, and will host this affair, so that could perhaps vault them to the ranks of the .500 teams. The Chips last won against Miami in 2014, and was humilated in the national limelight in the last go-around, so they’ll be eager to prove their worth as they try once again to mount a dark-horse divisional campaign.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN+.