College Football: MAC schedule does RedHawks no favors

The Mid-American Conference did the Miami RedHawks no favors with its 2018 football schedule.

The MAC unveiled its schedule Thursday, and it includes late-season trips by Miami to Buffalo and Northern Illinois – from the RedHawks’ point of view, the conference’s farthest-flung outposts.

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“We’re also at Minnesota and at Army the week before Buffalo,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “I’d almost like to stay out there for 10 days. That’s a massive road trip in Week Eight, then we’ve got to go to Buffalo. This will be a major travel year.”

Miami, which finished 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the MAC East Division last season, will open the season with non-conference home games against Marshall on Sept. 1 and Cincinnati in the annual “Victory Bell” grudge match on Sept. 8, though the game against the Bearcats will be played at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati.

The RedHawks also are scheduled to play at Minnesota of the Big Ten on Sept. 15 before opening the conference schedule at Bowling Green on Sept. 22 and playing Western Michigan in an inter-division game at home on Sept. 29.

Miami will face defending East Division-champion Akron on the road on Oct. 6, followed by a conference home game against Kent State, which finished last in the division last season.

Following their final non-conference game, at Army on Oct. 20, the RedHawks travel to Buffalo to face the Bulls on Tues., Oct. 30, opening the annual slate of mid-week games.

“Three out of our four non-league games are on the road,” Martin pointed out. “I like who we’re playing non-league. Cincinnati, Marshall and Army are all good games. I don’t like having five home games and seven road games, but I like the experience of playing Army at their place for the kids and the community.

“I don’t like having to face the triple-option in Week Eight,” he added, referring to Army’s preferred offense. “You have to throw out everything. That’s not what you want to do in the middle of the conference season.”

The annual “Battle of the Bricks” game against conference arch-rival Ohio is set for Wed., Nov. 7, at Miami’s Yager Stadium, followed by a trek to DeKalb, Ill., to meet Northern Illinois on Wed., Nov. 14, and the regular-season finale against Ball State on Tues., Nov. 20.

The game against Northern Illinois, which finished 6-2 in the MAC last season, is scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU. The season-ender against the Cardinals, who were 0-8 in conference play last season, is set to be televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

“We’re happy to be on the midweek docket,” Martin said. “In our first three years, we didn’t have any midweek games. Last year was the first year we had some midweek games. It makes you feel good to see how far you’ve brought the program in a short period of time. Being on ESPN is great for recruiting and a big selling point for the university. It’s like a three-hour commercial.”

Kickoff times for the games have not been established.

Miami did not play Minnesota, Western Michigan, Army or Northern Illinois last season. The RedHawks were 3-5 against the holdover teams, including a win over Akron and loss to Kent State, which kind of sums up the RedHawks bizarre 2017 finish.

Spring practice is scheduled to start on March 11 with the annual Spring Showcase set for April 21.

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