Miami eyes MAC East Division title game vs. Kent State on Nov. 27

Miami wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer crosses the goal line ahead of Bowling Green's Deshawn Jones Jr. during Tuesday night's game at Yager Stadium. Miami Athletics photo
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Miami wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer crosses the goal line ahead of Bowling Green's Deshawn Jones Jr. during Tuesday night's game at Yager Stadium. Miami Athletics photo

OXFORD -- Miami football coach Chuck Martin mentioned more than once a couple of weeks ago that Ohio was better than it record, pointing out that the Bobcats at the time were 11 points away from being undefeated in the Mid-American Conference.

What he humbly neglected to point out, then or now, is that the RedHawks are three points away from being undefeated.

Miami’s two losses in the MAC have been by a combined three points – 13-12 at Eastern Michigan and 35-33 at Ohio. Still, the RedHawks are 6-5 overall 5-2 in conference play and are in first place in the East Division by a half-game over 5-5 and 4-2 Kent State, which Miami is scheduled to play on Nov. 27 at noon in Kent.

The East championship and a berth in the MAC Championship game will be on the line no matter what Kent State does on Saturday at Akron (2-8, 1-5). A Golden Flash win sets up a tie for first place. A Kent State loss to the Zips and win over Miami would give the Golden Flashes the division title, since the MAC’s first tiebreaker is head-to-head outcomes.

“This is what you work for all year,” third-year sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert said Thursday morning during Miami’s weekly football media session. “We’ve all been super excited.”

“These kids deserve a meaningful opportunity,” Martin said. “This is another opportunity to play.”

Gabbert and sixth-year wide receiver Jack Sorenson have fueled an offense that has turned explosive. The RedHawks have averaged 483.7 yards of total offense over the last three games and scored 112 points over their last 10 quarters. They’ve averaged 37.3 points per game over the last two games. Gabbert has thrown for 1,070 yards and 11 touchdowns over Miami’s last three games, and Sorenson has accounted for almost half of those yards – 506 on 23 catches.

“The offense has been a lot of fun,” Gabbert said. “We’ve been able to sustain drives and have explosive plays. The defense helps out by getting turnovers, and the special teams also help with hidden yardage.

“Jack and I have been together for three years, and we’ve built a bond,” he added. “We spend 12 months working on football. He’s a phenomenal wide receiver. He makes my job easier.”

Miami prepared to play Kent State last season before the game was abruptly cancelled by pandemic protocols. Martin wasn’t sure the RedHawks would be able to glean much useful information for this year’s game from last year’s work.

“Probably not a lot,” he said, adding with a smile, “These kids can’t remember last week. I know I can’t.”

One of Martin’s concerns is how the RedHawks will handle the extra time off. The last time they went off schedule, between their Oct. 23 win over Ball State and their Nov. 2 game at Ohio, they came out flat against the Bobcats, losing 28-0 midway through the third quarter before roaring back to nearly pull off a miraculous comeback.

“We’ve talked about it,” he said, pointing out that Miami also will have to deal with the distractions of Thanksgiving. “We’ll look at the schedule to see what we did. We’ll try to get into more of a normal routine. You have to learn from experience, and the kids have to get it figured out mentally.”

That might make most of the RedHawks keenly interested viewers of Saturday’s Kent State-Akron game. Fifth-year senior defensive end Dominique Robinson, who’s been invited to play in the 2022 Senior Bowl on Feb. 5 in Mobile, Ala., already is an avid Golden Flash follower since his younger brother, Jasper, is on the team.

“I’m sure every person on the team will be watching the game,” Gabbert said. “It will give us something to do.”

NEXT GAME

Saturday, Nov. 27

Miami at Kent State, Noon, ESPN+, 980, 1450

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