Miami-Ohio (0-5) at Massachusetts (0-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gillette Stadium (68,756) -- Amherst, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Miami 0-2, UMass 0-2. Away Record: Miami 0-3, UMass 0-3. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, UMass 0-0. Conference Record: Miami 0-1, UMass 0-1. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Mike Bath will make his debut as the RedHawks' interim head coach on Saturday when Miami-Ohio pays a visit to Gillette Stadium for a Mid- American Conference matchup with the Massachusetts Minutemen.
Miami is historically the most successful member of the conference with 668 all-time victories to go along with its collection of 15 MAC Championship trophies. The RedHawks' tradition of success has ceased to exist since their 2010 league title. Don Treadwell took over a program that needed to be rebuilt after losing many of the key components from that championship unit and led Miami to a 4-8 finish in both of his full seasons. Treadwell was fired after the RedHawks dropped to 0-5 on the season with a 21-9 home loss to a weak Central Michigan squad last time out.
The 36-year old Bath, who went 23-10 as Miami's starting signal caller from 1998-00, will lead his alma mater for the rest of the 2013 season after being promoted from his position as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. Bath will have his work cut out for him as he takes over a program that has been outscored by 26.8 points per game through its first five outings.
The good news for Miami's new coach is his debut will be against another winless program. Charley Molnar went 1-11 in his rookie season as a head coach in 2012 as UMass was frequently overmatched in its inaugural campaign as a member of the FBS. Molnar's career record dropped to 1-16 last week after his team's 28-7 loss to Bowling Green in its MAC opener. The Minutemen have been nearly as disappointing as the visitors with a -24.6 ppg scoring margin.
This will be just the second encounter between these conference rivals in history. Miami won the inaugural meeting last season in Oxford, 27-16, in the Minutemen's advent to the conference.
Bath may need to shake things up to improve Miami's struggling offense that is ranked second to last nationally in total yards (198.4) and points per game (8.8). Senior quarterback Austin Boucher entered the season with a 4-0 record as a starter that included victories in the MAC Championship Game and GoDaddy.com bowl in 2010. After serving as a backup to the school's all-time leading passer, Zac Dysert, for the past two seasons, Boucher made his way back into the starting lineup hoping to pick up where he left off. He has been wildly ineffective through five games this season with only 40 completions on 91 attempts for 524 yards.
None of the team's pass catchers have been very productive due to the overall weak offensive performance. Tight end Steve Marck leads the team in receptions with only eight, while the versatile Dawan Scott has tallied a team-high 105 receiving yards on six catches.
Miami's leading rusher is backup quarterback Austin Gearing, who has seen the field more than most backups this season and has gained 248 yards on 51 carries. The RedHawks net only 91.6 yards on the ground per game and have rushed for only two touchdowns this season.
Kent Kern has recorded 50 total tackles to lead a defense that allows 35.6 points and over 500 total yards per game. Miami has been drastically worse outside of Oxford, having been torched for 143 points (47.7 ppg) in its three road games this season.
Miami should fare better in its fourth away game as it collides with the only FBS school with a lower scoring average. UMass was held to just a single touchdown for the third-straight game last week by the Falcons. Sophomore A.J. Doyle wrestled away the starting quarterback job from last season's starter Mike Wegzyn in recent weeks. Doyle had a rough outing against BGSU, completing only 4-of-17 pass attempts for 20 yards. Wegzyn came off the bench to hit on 7-of-8 attempts for 76 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Doyle's poor showing did not send him back down the depth chart, although a change could be in the works if a failure to manufacture points continues through conference play.
Jamal Wilson was a bright spot in the lopsided loss to BGSU with a career-high 119 rushing yards on 20 carries. UMass still tallied only 280 yards of total offense and was penalized eight times for 62 yards. Sophomore wideout Tajae Sharpe scored the team's only touchdown on a 24-yard reception.
The Minutemen have plenty of questions to answer on the defensive side of the ball as well as they enter week seven allowing 31.6 ppg and 484.4 ypg. Devin Brown has been all over the field this season en route to a team-best 45 tackles. UMass switched to a new 4-3 defensive scheme after three games and has surrendered a much more respectable average of 427 ypg to its opposition in its two games since the change.
Both sides will put forth a spirited effort as they anxiously pursue a much needed win. Although UMass has the advantage of playing on its home field, it lost by 10 points to FCS foe Maine to indicate how playing in an empty Gillette Stadium provides minimal leverage at best. The RedHawks' mid-season coaching change was intended to give the team a breath of new life. Bath will be out to prove he deserves to have the interim label lifted right from the start.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Ohio 24, Massachusetts 20
10/09 10:36:24 ET