In a battle between red and blue on one of the most important nights in American history, the Miami RedHawks fell to the Buffalo Bulls for the first time ever.
Now at 2-7 on the season, Miami football is suffering one of its worst seasons under head coach Shane Montgomery.
The team has one conference win and lost its last two games by a combined margin of 53 points.
Miami’s losing effort in Buffalo highlighted many of Miami’s woes. The RedHawks gave up 216 yards on the ground and another 260 yards through the air. Coming into this season, Miami’s defense was considered the best in the MAC and one of the best among non-BCS schools across the nation. But, as the adage goes, saying it doesn’t make it true.
The Red and White hasn’t been able to stop any big plays this year. Miami’s rushing defense, led by preseason Butkus award watch list members Clayton Mullins and Joey Hudson, hasn’t played to the level expected. Instead, it has given up an average of 173.2 yards per game and is ranked seventh in the MAC. The defense has gotten just 10 sacks all season and is ranked 10th in scoring defense.
The defense isn’t the only place where Red and White has underperformed. The RedHawks’ offense is one of the worst in the MAC. It is ranked 12th in the conference for scoring, rushing and overall offense. It is ranked 9th in the conference for passing, 10th in first downs and last in turnover margin, averaging a -1 margin this season.
Freshman quarterback Clay Belton lost his first two starts for the RedHawks and left Tuesday’s game early after suffering a minor injury. Before leaving the game in the fourth quarter, Belton completed 17 of 30 passes for 178 yards and ran for a touchdown.
Belton’s performance, though, didn’t compare to Buffalo’s Drew Willy’s game on Tuesday. The senior went 18 for 25 through the air and ended up throwing for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Willy’s two touchdowns brought his career total up to 44, a feat that has only been accomplished by one other Bull, Marty Barrett, who finished his career at that mark.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Willy told the University at Buffalo student newspaper, Spectrum. “I think it’s just a testament to my coaches, teammates and all the guys around me. There’s going to be tons of records going down after I leave. The program is on the rise.”
However, the standout performance in Tuesday’s game was James Starks. Starks ran away with the game, literally, accumulating 177 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re just happy to be on top,” Starks told Spectrum. “It’s a great win for the team and we should keep it going from there. I think we’re up to the challenge. We got our minds right and we’re ready to win.”
Tuesday’s loss dropped Miami into a three-way tie for last place in the MAC East. The Bulls historic win over the RedHawks put them into first place in the same division.
“I’m excited for our fans and excited for our university,” Buffalo head coach Turner Gill told the Spectrum. “This is a big win for our program, and now we have to continue on. (This was) a historic night, obviously (not only) for the presidential race, but also for Buffalo’s football program. This is just the beginning of our journey.”
Tuesday night’s game featured a rarity in college sports. Both teams wore their home colors. In honor of Tuesday night’s election, which saw Senator Barack Obama become the first African-American president in U.S. history, the Bulls and RedHawks petitioned the NCAA to allow both teams to sport their home uniforms. The Bulls wore blue, the color commonly associated with the Democratic Party (also victors on Tuesday Night), while the RedHawks dressed in red, the color linked to the Republican Party.
The RedHawks will try to turn things around Tuesday when they take on the undefeated and No. 16 ranked Ball State University Cardinals. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. from Yager Stadium and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.