Miami overcame two Brett Gabbert interceptions to snap an eight-game losing streak against Western Michigan with a convincing 34-21 win at Kalamazoo on Saturday. The RedHawks logged their sixth straight win to improve to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference while sitting alone atop the East Division.
The road win was their fourth in five games, the most road wins of any team in the country. The overall win streak is Miami’s longest since winning the final six games of the 2016 season. The RedHawks became bowl eligible for the seventh time in the last eight seasons and are 6-1 for the first time since the 2003 team lost its opener before reeling off 13 straight wins.
“We’re having fun,” McKee said Monday morning during the program’s weekly media session. “At practice, we’re having fun. We’re brothers. We treat each other like brothers.”
“You can see it,” 10th-year Miami coach Chuck Martin said of his team’s growing confidence. “Wins give you confidence. What you have to avoid is complacency. We know what a good football game looks like. We also know what a bad football game looks like. Complacency is why teams get bumped off. It’s hard to keep winning and winning and winning. You’ve got to go out and work hard. That’s why you have success.
Miami earned two MAC East Division Player of the Week awards, which were announced on Monday. Gabbert, a fifth-year junior quarterback, was named Offensive Player of the Week after getting past his two interceptions to throw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, both junior wide receiver Gage Lavardain, who returned after missing two games with an injury. Gabbert also rushed for a career-high two scores.
The MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week is junior kicker Graham Nicholson, who connected on field goals of 39 and 40 yards, leaving him 13-of-13 on field goals in 2023. He also hit all four of his extra points.
“We’re really happy with the win,” Martin said. “We did good things in all three phases.”
Martin was especially pleased with the response of Miami’s defense to Gabbert’s two interceptions, which set up the Broncos deep in RedHawks territory. Western Michigan converted the first opportunity with a touchdown, but Miami’s defense came up with a stop on the second.
“That was a huge stop,” Martin said. “That was the biggest play of the game.
“We’ve played five road games,” he added. “We’re 4-1. The rest of the league is 10-33 on the road. It’s hard to win on the road.”
Coupled with Ohio’s loss 23-13 loss at Northern Illinois, wins by Miami and Toledo set up a matchup on Saturday between the RedHawks and the West Division-leading Rockets on Saturday. Kickoff against the defending MAC champions is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Yager Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
It’s the first of a crucial two-game stretch for the RedHawks. They’re scheduled to meet the arch-rival Bobcats on Oct. 28 in Athens in the latest edition of the annual “Battle of the Bricks” series.
That game will be followed by the annual series of midweek, prime-time games against Akron on Nov. 8 and Buffalo on Nov. 15 before the “Redbird Rivalry” game at Ball State on Nov. 25.
“This puts in a good position, but we’re only at the halfway point,” Martin said. “Everyone gets excited, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Toledo at Miami, 4 p.m., ESPNU, 980, 1450