It is November, meaning midweek games are all the rage in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Miami University will be the first to play in one of these contests when they host Bowling Green State University Tuesday.
The RedHawks (0-8, 0-4 MAC) have been losers of 12 straight contests dating back to Oct. 27 of last year, when they upset a Top-25 team in rival Ohio University, 23-20. Their next test is 5-3 BGSU, which comes into Oxford winners of the teams’ prior two meetings. Despite starting off with five wins in their first six games, Bowling Green has dropped its last two of games, including a last-second loss to rival the University of Toledo on Oct. 26.
This marks the first weekday kickoff for Miami this season, and for many of the players it is something special and exciting redshirt senior tight end and captain Steve Marck said.
“One of the selling points when they recruit you in the MAC is you’re going to get this national exposure in November,” Marck said of Miami’s remaining four games, all of which will be played on a weeknight and will air on ESPN2, ESPN3 or ESPNU. “It’s kind of become the signature of the conference, ‘MACtion’ is I guess what they call it. It’s fun, and people from back home can watch me play because I’m not from around here. But I know the team enjoys it and you get used to it.”
The Falcons pose a real trial for the winless ‘Hawks, and have pounded it out on the ground quite well so far this year, amassing 1,593 yards on 328 carries through eight games. They average 4.8 yards per rush, and their top two running backs, redshirt sophomores Travis Greene and Andre Givens, average 5.9 and 6.8 yards per rush, respectively. Greene has five touchdowns in 2013, and is closing in on the millennium mark this week, needing just 94 more yards to hit 1,000 yards.
Bowling Green’s passing attack is nothing to scoff at either. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson has harassed defenses when the Falcons have decided to go to the air, completing 140 of his 218 attempts for 1,827 yards and a 9-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Miami’s 112th ranked total defense is going to have to come up big at home if they wish to extend BGSU’s skid to three games.
“Bowling Green is a good football team, they really are,” interim head coach Mike Bath said. “Coach [Dave] Clawson does a great job with these guys and he’s been a very successful coach at three stops already, and their coordinators are really good. It’s always been a great rivalry and this is one of our true three rivalry games. This is an important game and it will be a fun game. We had some flaws last week that we are really, truly hoping we’ll work through and I believe we’ll work through. I think this is going to be a fourth quarter game and we’ll see what happens.”
Even at 0-8, the RedHawks haven’t lost the enthusiasm seen in programs competing for a conference title. Practices are still high-tempo and the spirits are still up, something redshirt senior defensive lineman Wes Williams attributes to the team rallying around experience.
“We’ve got a really strong senior class,” Williams said. “My true freshman year I ended up starting and we were 1-11, so we’ve been through this and it’s just kind of about keeping the morale up, keeping guys going and being prepared. We still have something to play for, and we want to go out the right way.”
The Tuesday game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. kickoff and features a halftime treat – Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks is set to provide a fireworks show.