Miami, meanwhile, has the top scoring defense in the MAC, allowing just 21.6 points per game, and a third-ranked net defense with 348.3 yards allowed per game.
“They run a fast-paced offense, very good quarterback,” Miami defensive end Dom Robinson said in a press conference last week. “He leads that team very well, and I know we started game-planning for them before COVID hit last year, so I kind of got an early glimpse of what we’re going to do. They can be stopped. It’s not like they ‘re unstoppable, even though it looked like that for a little while.”
Robinson has followed Kent State more closely than others because his brother, sophomore Jasper Robinson, plays defensive line for the Golden Flashes.
While the matchup is extra special for his family, Robinson has been looking forward to an opportunity to get back to the MAC Championship since the RedHawks won the conference title in 2019. Miami had expected to defend the crown last year before COVID cancelations ended the season early.
Miami had already secured its place in the championship before the 2019 finale, which it lost.
“Of course you want to try to win out, straight up, but this is what you live for – big Saturday game to go to the championship game,” said Robinson, who was a wide receiver in 2019 before making the change to defensive line last year. “You put everything on the line. It makes you work harder, not that I’m not a hard worker anyway, but this is what you prepare for to go to the MAC Championship game. I’m all in.”
Miami has waited an extra long time for this game after last playing Nov. 16, a 34-7 win against Bowling Green.
Martin had attributed a poor outing against Ohio, a 35-33 loss on Nov. 2, to a long layoff waiting for that Tuesday night game after coming off a 24-17 win at Ball State on Oct. 23. However, he is hopeful the players learned from that experience and come out mentally better prepared for this one.
Quarterback Brett Gabbert doesn’t expect that to be a factor this time.
“It’s what you work for all year round,” Gabbert said last week. “Our offensive coordinator and my quarterback coach, Coach (Eric) Koehler, said, ‘If I would have told you you would be playing Kent State last game of the year to decide if you were going to win the MAC East and go to the MAC Championship, we would have all been super excited,’ and that’s how I am. We are all thankful. It’s going to be a good game. They are a really good team, and hopefully we can go on the road and get a big win.”
Miami at Kent State, Noon, ESPN+, 980, 1450