Kent State (8-1) at Miami-Ohio (4-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Yager Stadium (24,286) -- Oxford, Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: KSU 4-0, Miami 3-0. Away Record: KSU 4-1, Miami 1-5. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, Miami 0-0. Conference Record: KSU 5-0, Miami 3-2. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 46-13.
GAME NOTES: The Miami-Ohio RedHawks try to knock off another team unbeaten in Mid-American Conference play when they host the first-place Kent State Golden Flashes at Yager Stadium this weekend.
Coach Darrell Hazell has given the fans in Kent something to be happy about for the first time in decades. Kent State is leading the East Division with a perfect 5-0 league record after winning its last seven games. The Golden Flashes are bowl eligible for the first time since 1972 and upset Rutgers on the road for their inaugural win over a ranked opponent in school history. KSU is leading both Ohio University and Bowling Green by a single game in the East Division standings.
On Oct. 27, Miami ended Ohio University's hopes of a perfect season by upsetting the then ranked Bobcats, 23-20, in Oxford. The RedHawks followed their program lifting win with a 27-24 loss to Buffalo at UB Stadium, but they now return to Yager Stadium where they are 3-0 on the season. Miami has to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible. Coach Don Treadwell's team needs to snap out of its current slump for that to be possible, as it has lost three of its last four games.
Miami holds a sizeable 46-13 edge in the all-time series with Kent State. The RedHawks earned a 9-3 win in last season's matchup in Kent.
Hazell's squad is an offensive juggernaut. KSU has been held under 30 points on just two occasions this season and has averaged 38 points over the span of its last six games. The Golden Flashes have the ability to torch teams through the air with Spencer Keith and pound away on the ground with Trayion Durham and Dri Archer.
Durham (887) and Archer (892) have used their contrasting running styles to shred opposing defenses. Durham is an every down back that showed his toughness by compiling 131 yards on 22 carries against Rutgers' sixth ranked rush defense. Archer's electrifying speed is evident when he returns kicks (13 returns, 547 yards, three TDs, No. 1 ranking in FBS), but has translated well into the backfield also, as he gains a MAC-best 9.2 yards per carry. Archer is also a weapon in the passing game with 25 receptions which he has turned into a team-high 333 yards and three scores.
Keith has not been a prolific passer this season but has been serviceable, completing 58.3 percent of his pass attempts for 1,266 yards with only three interceptions to eight touchdown passes. The senior quarterback had his streak of five games with at least one TD pass come to an end last week against Akron.
KSU is not great at stopping opponents from racking up yards, but it manages to come up with turnovers at opportune times. After forcing six total turnovers against Western Michigan to help the team overcome a 24-17 deficit, the Golden Flashes recorded seven takeaways in their upset at Rutgers. Six of the Scarlet Knights' turnovers were Gary Nova interceptions. Nova entered the game with only three INTs in RU's first eight contests.
KSU did not force any turnovers in last week's 35-24 win over Akron, but it did manage to limit the Zips to just two red zone trips on the way to double- digit victory.
Luke Batton is the anchor of the defense with a team-best 93 total stops. Luke Wollet is second on the squad with 70 tackles and also has made a team-leading three interceptions. Roosevelt Nix leads all active FBS defenders in career tackles for loss with 49.5, ranks third in forced fumbles (10), and 10th in sacks (19).
Wollet will be tested as Miami's offense relies on its aerial attack, which is the third best in the MAC with 283.4 ypg. Zac Dysert has delivered some inspiring performances this season, the most notable of which was his 500-yard passing and 100-yard rushing game versus Akron. The senior quarterback passed Ben Roethlisberger in the school's record books to become Miami's all-time leading passer his last time out. He has tallied 10,997 yards, 66 TDs, and 48 INTs during the course of his career.
Dawan Scott has emerged as one of the elite receivers in the MAC this season. Despite missing the team's game at Bowling Green, he has tallied a team-high 630 yards and five touchdowns on 36 receptions. Andy Cruse is the top possession wideout on the team with 60 catches. Nick Harwell was the go-to-guy in the upset of Ohio as he made eight grabs for 138 yards and a score in the contest. Harwell was one of the elite wideouts in the MAC last season with 1,425 yards, 97 receptions, and nine TDs.
While the RedHawks are blessed with dependable pass-catchers, the running game has been less stellar with Jamire Westbrook (272 yards) leading the way and Spencer Treadwell (195 yards) right behind him in the least productive rushing offense in the MAC.
Miami's defense has yet to slow down an FBS opponent. The defense has allowed its seven FBS opponents to gain an average of 516.6 yards of total offense per game. The RedHawks went into its bout with Ohio allowing 285.3 rushing yards per game, but they limited the Bobcats to 162 rushing yards and their star tailback Beau Blankenship to just 74 yards. However, Miami was not able to repeat that success against Branden Oliver and the Bulls as Buffalo rushed for 215 yards against it last week.
Chris Wade is the team's leader and MAC's second most frequent tackler with 99 stops on the season including 5.5 for loss. Mike Johns (6.0 TFL) and Mwanza Wamulumba (5.0 TFL) supply pressure from the line. Senior LB Pat Hinkel's great defensive awareness and anticipation has yielded 55 stops, three interceptions, and a defensive score.
Miami's weakness against the run is a huge red flag heading into this one. Kent State is not great against the pass, but its unstoppable rushing tandem should deliver enough for the Golden Flashes to coast to a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 34, Miami-Ohio 24
11/07 10:41:17 ET