Ten years. That's how long it's been since Miami beat Cincinnati in the oldest active non-conference rivalry in college football. Despite leading the series 59-53-7, the RedHawks have mostly been in disarray during the losing streak as they have posted a 30-80 record from 2006-2014 with a MAC title in 2010 while the Bearcats have been a really well-run program with an 83-34 record and five conference titles in that same span.
But this year may be different: this is a Miami team that took UC to the brink last season, and one can argue that this RedHawk team is more talented and is deeper. Despite being unable to move the ball in Madison last Saturday, the run defense gave the offense plenty of chances as it held the Badgers to 58 rushing yards in the first half. Converted running back Paul Moses had a strong showing at linebacker with 10 tackles and a sack, but constantly losing the field position battle made it hard for the defense to keep Wisconsin off the board.
On the flipside, Cincinnati sustained a 34-26 loss to a very good Temple team in Nippert as Gunner Kiel threw four interceptions despite going for 427 yards and two scores through the air. The defense had its struggles as well as Jahad Thomas of the Owls went off for 193 yards rushing and a touchdown. A 100-yard kickoff return at the beginning of the second half that put Temple up 17-6 did no favors for the Bearcats either as the hole was too steep for them to climb out of.
Regarding Saturday's game, there are a few match-ups to keep an eye out for. Kiel is one of the more productive quarterbacks in all of college football, but he will have to go up against a secondary that recorded interceptions in each of the two games this season as well as a group that picked him off twice last season. It'll be up to receivers like Mekale McKay and Alex Chisum to fight off of Miami's press and make plays down the field for the Bearcats.
2015 Hustle Belt MAC Pick'em - Week 3: Our first MACtion
After a solid week in non-conference play, we have 12 games this week due to the MAC game taking place.
The next battle to look forward to is the one between the offensive line of the RedHawks and the Bearcats defensive front. For Miami to be able to move the ball, the line needs get some movement on the line of scrimmage on runs as well as protect whichever quarterback is in the game for the 'Hawks. While UC isn't exactly Wisconsin in the front seven, it's still a talented group that can wreak some havoc, as indicated by their drubbing of Alabama A&M in the season opener.
The final game within the game to watch out for is how the Miami quarterbacks will fare against a defense that allowed 81 passing yards against Temple. All of the signal callers have shown some promise for the Red and White, with Drew Kummer getting the lion's share of plays. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has only allowed five yards per attempt this season and ten first downs through the air, which will make it interesting to see which MU quarterback gets the bulk of the work on Saturday: the game manager Kummer, the more athletic Gus Ragland, or the young gunslinger Billy Bahl.
For Miami to finally end its losing streak, it needs to have success running the ball. None of the passers are able to carry the team by himself yet, so they need to be able to pound the rock effectively with Kenny Young and Alonzo Smith and use play-action to their advantage. On defense, they have to be able to stifle the running game and make UC one-dimensional and pressure Kiel into bad decisions. If Miami is able to execute on Saturday, then the Victory Bell will return back home in Oxford, where it belongs