The Miami RedHawks and Ohio Bobcats face off this weekend in Oxford, renewing their annual “Battle for the Bricks” contest. Not only are the two in-state rivals battling for bragging rights, but also for first place in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East division. Yes you heard that right. Miami, the team who has spent much of the last two seasons in the basement of college football, is playing for the top spot in the East division mid-way through the season. Both teams come into the game at 4-3 overall, the only difference is that Miami has an unblemished 3-0 record in conference, while Ohio sits at 3-1. Miami has loads of confidence entering the game, after winning their first road game in two years last weekend at Central Michigan. Defeating Ohio will no doubt be tough, but a win for Miami on homecoming weekend in Oxford would keep the RedHawks in first place, somewhere no one expected them to be eight weeks into the season.
Miami Will Win If: Zac Dysert can have another game like he did last weekend at Central Michigan. Dysert lit up the Chippewa defense last Saturday, completing 29-of-47 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns. Miami have fans have been waiting for the sophomore quarterback to put up numbers like that in 2010, and if he can sustain it, Miami will be tough to stop on the offensive side of the ball. Dysert has found some new targets besides junior Armand Robinson, who is the second leading receiver in the conference with 56 receptions for 599 yards and three touchdowns. While Robinson has been impressive so far this season, for Miami to continue to play well, Dysert needs to look for other wide outs. He found one last week in sophomore Andy Cruse, who caught eight passes for 179 yards including the game winner with 19 seconds left. With an almost non-existent run game; expect Miami to dial up a lot of plays for Dysert to look for both Robinson and Cruse.
After getting embarrassed two weeks ago by Cincinnati in a 45-3 loss, the RedHawk defense really stepped up last week against CMU, holding the dangerous Chippewa offense to only 20 points. Miami will need another strong performance from their defense on Saturday to have a chance at winning. The RedHawks will need to slow down Ohio’s dual-threat quarterback Boo Jackson, who has thrown for 913 yards while running for 247 more. Ohio uses a two-quarterback system, so if the RedHawks can slow down Jackson and back-up Phil Bates (399 rush yards and 152 pass yards), it will give the team a good chance to win the game.
Prediction: There is no doubt that this is the biggest game to take place in Oxford in a long time. It will be homecoming at Miami, so Yager Stadium will be the loudest it has been all year. Miami is no doubt one of college football’s most improved teams in 2010, and I think they will show that on Saturday. Miami has a great opportunity Saturday to take control of the MAC East division in front of their home fans, and I don’t think they will let this opportunity get away from them. Dysert has another big game in a close contest. Miami Over Ohio 34-24.
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Written by Michael Solomon