The Miami (OH) RedHawks (2-9, 1-6) will travel east as they take on the Massachusetts Minutemen (2-8, 1-5) in a Mid-American Conference East Division matchup Saturday afternoon. Miami (OH) has taken two of the three previous meetings, including a 42-41 win at home on October 4, 2014 though Massachusetts covered the line as a 5.5 point underdog in that contest.
Miami (OH) had their win streak end at one game with a 37-28 defeat at home to Akron Saturday. Massachusetts snapped a five game losing skid as they upended Eastern Michigan 28-17 on the road Saturday. The game kicks off at 1:00 pm ET from Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst, Massachusetts and can be seen on ESPN3. Massachusetts is currently a 10 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 55 points.
Miami (OH) was in a 27-7 hole at the half and couldn’t come all the way back in their loss to in-state rival Akron. The RedHawks were outgained 414-384, lost the first down battle 20-18 and the time of possession battle 31:10 to 28:50 in the contest. Miami (OH) was also hurt by four turnovers in the game while forcing a pair of Akron turnovers. The RedHawks did score on an interception return that helped cut their deficit to 34-28; it was part of their 14 points in 46 seconds to get Miami (OH) back in the game but they couldn’t come all the way back.
The RedHawks are 78th (212.9 yards) in the nation in passing offense and 115th (128.8 yards) in rushing offense on the year. Miami (OH) averages 17.7 points per game and stand 100th in scoring defense as they allow 33.7 points per game this year. Drew Kummer was the starter at quarterback; he has hit 56 of 117 passes for 849 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions on the year. He was supplanted as the starter last month by Billy Bahl, who is 87 of 198 for 1,256 yards with seven touchdown passes against 13 picks this season. Gus Ragland has hit 20 of 29 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns in his limited throws. Ragland is second on the team on the ground with 57 carries for 331 yards plus two scores while Alonzo Smith chips in 98 carries for a team leading 389 yards and four rushing scores. Kenny Young (58 carries, 258 yards) and Leonard Ross (50 carries, 165 yards) have seen work too; as a team, Miami (OH) averages 3.8 yards per carry on the year. Sam Martin is the team’s leading receiver with 29 catches for a team leading 542 yards with two touchdowns while Rokeem Williams contributes 27 grabs for 464 yards and two touchdowns. Jared Murphy (28 grabs, 423 yards, 2 TD) and Chris Hudson (16 receptions, 260 yards, 3 TD) have developed nicely into secondary targets. Two kickers for Miami (OH) have combined to hit 22 of 24 extra points and seven of 10 field goals this season with a long of 38 yards.
Massachusetts led for the final three and a half quarters against Eastern Michigan and broke their losing skid. The Minutemen outgained the Eagles 439-315, racked up 24 first downs while allowing 23 and held the ball for 34:35 while Eastern Michigan had the ball for just 25:25 in the contest. Both teams committed one turnover in the game; three of Massachusetts’s scoring drives took double digit plays in the contest, helping to wear down the Eastern Michigan defense.
The Minutemen do plenty of damage through the air as they are averaging 274.6 yards per game (29th in the nation) but they are putting up only 134.3 yards a game (tied for 107th in the nation) on the ground while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. The Minutemen are putting up 22.2 points per game but they are a sieve defensively as they allow 33.1 points per contest, which is 98th in the country in scoring defense. Blake Frohnapfel has completed 240 of 416 passes for 2,575 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 picks; Ross Comis has hit 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards and two scores in relief. Marquis Young is the team’s leading rusher with 106 carries for 656 yards and three scores while Jamal Wilson chips in 78 carries for 363 yards and six touchdowns. Tajae Sharpe, a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, has reeled in a team high 99 passes for 1,100 yards and five scores on the year. Marken Michel is next in line for the Minutemen with 29 grabs for 352 yards and four touchdowns while Wilson has added 22 catches out of the backfield; Rodney Mills (28 catches, 430 yards, 3 TD) and Shakur Nesmith (15 grabs, 204 yards, 3 TD) are good targets as well to take pressure off Sharpe. Three kickers for the Minutemen have banged through 27 of 29 extra points and seven of 11 field goals this season with a long of 48 yards.
Massachusetts is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 at home against teams with a losing road record. Miami (OH) is 1-4-1 ATS in their last six on the road against teams with a losing home record.
Both teams have struggled mightily this season and it’s a tough call as to what will happen in this contest. Massachusetts has better offensive weapons to work with, especially with the combination of Frohnapfel to Sharpe. Miami (OH) doesn’t have the weapons to hang in, especially if they can’t make plays on defense. Give the points and look for the Minutemen to get the victory in this contest.