Miami football: RedHawks wary of last-place Bowling Green

Miami-Ohio quarterback Brett Gabbert (5) runs for a short gain against Minnesota during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 31-26. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Caption
Miami-Ohio quarterback Brett Gabbert (5) runs for a short gain against Minnesota during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 31-26. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Credit: CRAIG LASSIG

Credit: CRAIG LASSIG

OXFORD -- So which Bowling Green team will Miami face on Tuesday at Yager Stadium?

The team that won, 14-10, at Minnesota – where Miami lost, 31-26, in the second game of the season on Sept. 11 – and 56-44 at Buffalo on Oct. 30 or the team that got hammered, 49-17, at home by archrival Toledo in last Wednesday’s “Battle of I-75?”

That’s the question faced by sixth-year wide receiver Jack Sorenson and the RedHawks as they prepare to meet the Falcons, who are 3-7 overall and 1-5 in the Mid-American Conference East Division, at 8 tonight. The Falcons are tied with Akron for last in the MAC East.

“Their scores aren’t indicative of how good they are,” Sorenson said on Thursday during Miami’s weekly media session. “They’re really good. This should be a fun game. We need to attack it like it’s for the MAC championship.”

It very well could be. Miami goes into the final two games of its regular season 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the MAC, tied with Kent State (5-5, 4-2) for first place in the East Division. The RedHawks will face the Golden Flashes in both teams’ regular-season finale on Nov. 27 at Kent State, and a berth in the MAC Championship Game will be on the line if Miami gets past Bowling Green and Kent State wins at Akron on Saturday at noon.

The Falcons’ roster includes three local products – Avi McGary, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound, third-year sophomore linebacker from Lakota East, 6-4, 285-pound fourth-year junior defensive lineman Jevon Henderson from Centerville and 6-4, 240-pound linebacker Demetrius Hardemon from Beavercreek. Hardemon is a transfer from Georgetown (Ky.) College.

Miami leads the overall series against Bowling Green, 45-25-5, and has won the last two games and three of the last four. Pandemic protocols kept the two teams from playing in Bowling Green in 2020, and the RedHawks rolled to a 44-3 win in Oxford in 2019 on their way to the East Division title and a MAC championship.

Miami third-year sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert has taken over the MAC lead in average passing yards per game at 255.1 and ranks second in the conference with 18 touchdown passes despite missing 2-1/2 games with injuries. Gabbert ranks second with an average of 272.7 yards of total offense per game. Sorenson is third in the MAC with 61 catches while being tied for first with eight touchdown receptions and leading the conference with an average of 109.8 receiving yards per game.

The Falcons, under third-year coach Scott Loeffler, rank 11th in the 12-team MAC with an average of 22.9 points per game and last with averages of 319.9 yards of total offense and 98.4 rushing yards per game.

“They use a lot of motion to try to confuse people,” Miami fourth-year junior defensive end Kameron Butler said. “You have to stay in your gaps.”

Bowling Green junior linebacker Darren Anders leads the MAC with 103 tackles, just ahead of Miami third-year sophomore linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., who has piled up 97 stops. RedHawks third-year sophomore defensive end Lonnie Phelps, Jr., is tied for second in the conference with 6-1/2 sacks, while third-year freshman outside linebacker is fourth in the conference with an average of 9.4 tackles per game.

Martin pointed to Bowling Green’s wins at Minnesota and Buffalo, which Miami overwhelmed, 45-18, last Tuesday at Yager Stadium as evidence that the Falcons can’t be taken for granted,

“They started off OK, but then they fell apart,” he said about the Falcons’ game against Toledo. “It’s been feast or famine for them. They play with a lot of passion – a lot of emotion. Offensively, they use a lot of motion. They use a number of (run-pass options). Their quarterback makes plays. When they’re good, they’re really good. We totally expect them to bounce back.

“They’ve got talent. There’s no doubt that they’re a talented team. We have to stay focused.”

TODAY’S GAME

Bowling Green at Miami, 8 p.m., ESPNU, 980, 1450

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