It was a good week for Miami. In fact, it was a great week. After beating Temple University 23-3 on Tuesday night to increase their record to 8-4 (7-1 MAC), the Miami RedHawks went from “worst to first” in one year, something that virtually never happens in college football.
“One” is a significant number to Miami. Last year, they were worst in the MAC winning just one game and going 1-11 and 1-7 in the conference. This year saw the historic turnaround, with Miami losing just one game in conference at 7-1. Occasionally, there have been some worst to first teams in professional sports and once in college basketball, but rarely, if ever, in college football, where recruiting, coaching, graduations, and competition all have an impact.
With Kent State’s 28-6 victory over Ohio University, Miami officially won the MAC East and now head to the Marathon MAC Championship game to play Northern Illinois next Friday December 3. Kent State dominated the game leading 14-3 at the half. After scoring twice in the fourth quarter, Kent State scaled their 28-6 victory sending Miami players and fans into a state of jubilation.
When Mike Haywood came to Miami, everyone felt that they had the right coach for the job. With a new system and many new players, Haywood’s team won one game in his first season, but the players learned what they needed to do to succeed. This year, his second year began with a big game against ranked Florida, and Miami showed signs that it was a totally different team. Then, through the year, Miami beat Central Michigan, Kent State, Bowling Green, and Buffalo with only one conference misstep losing 34-13 to Ohio.
Miami has less than a week to now prepare for the high-octane offense of Northern Illinois which stampeded Eastern Michigan 71-3 Friday. Miami will do everything that can to get ready to meet the team that was predicted to be in the Championship and showed throughout the year they belonged. But give Miami players credit and kudos especially to Coach Haywood. Yes, it was a great showing for Miami going from “worst to first,” and they are looking for another great week as they look to go from “worst to best” in the MAC.
Miami will be going to a bowl game for the first time since 2004. The MAC has three guaranteed bowl tie-ins: Little Caesars Pizza, GoDaddy.com and uDrove Humanitarian. Two of those bowl spots go to the participants in the MAC Championship Game.
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Written by Michael Solomon