Well Buckeye fans, we have mercifully reached the end of Ohio State’s non-conference schedule, and it’s going to go out with quite a whimper. Florida Atlantic folded within the first ten minutes of their trip to Columbus, and Cincinnati left much to be desired after getting shut out for four quarters, but neither of them are quite down in the same depth of ineptitude that MAC-Daddy Miami (OH) finds themselves in.
If my previous previews served as good glances of Ohio State’s opponents, consider this one a glance of a glance, because it shouldn’t take much convincing for you to see why Miami (OH) might just be better off forfeiting this game outright. That way, RedHawk students can skip the two hour drive to Columbus in favor of perusing the Fall 2019 J-Crew catalog while pretending their school is still the leading hockey college in the state of Ohio.
Buckeye Offense vs. RedHawk Defense
Remember that Cincinnati Bearcats team I mentioned earlier that failed to register a single point against Ohio State merely two weeks ago? Well, Miami (OH) played the very same Bearcats the following weekend, and while the RedHawks initially raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, Cincinnati responded with a 35-3 run to close out the remaining 45 minutes of the contest.
Michael Warren III — arguably Cincinnati’s best offensive player — only needed 12 attempts to rack up 113 yards and three touchdowns on the RedHawk defense. Mind you, this was in wake of him garnering merely 15 yards on 10 carries against Ohio State the previous weekend. Additionally, Iowa starting running back Mekhi Sargent managed 91 yards on 14 carries himself in the season opener against Miami (OH). There’s not really that much praise you can give the RedHawks for squashing Tennessee Tech, but they still managed to allow an FCS running back nearly five yards per carry on seven touches.
If you read my film breakdown of the bulldozing Ohio State gave Indiana, then you can probably get a sense of how this game is going to go. With a critical nighttime road match on the horizon next week versus Nebraska, I can’t imagine Ryan Day is going to want to show too much of his hand here with respect to offensive creativity. That means we can probably expect a healthy dose of J.K. Dobbins in the first half, Master Teague III to come in as a reliever in the third quarter, and perhaps Demario McCall to run out the final 10-15 minutes of the game. It’s not entirely far-fetched to imagine Ohio State finishing with two hundred-yard running backs for the second week in a row, and hopefully Dobbins gets enough burn in the first half to bolster his growing Heisman candidacy.
RedHawk Offense vs. Buckeye Defense
Through three games this year, Miami (OH)’s offense ranks dead last among MAC teams with respect to total yards per game (249.7) and passing yards per game (145.3). Additionally, their rushing offense ranks only in front of Akron and Northern Illinois with a wimpy 104.3 rushing yards per game on a team average of 2.98 yards per carry. To put that another way, the RedHawks cannot effectively play ball control, and they have no chance of being able to throw themselves back into games in which they’ve fallen behind by multiple scores.
Of course, facing a team like Ohio State, one can probably easily understand why not being able to effectively pass the football might spell trouble for a team that enters the game as a 39.5 point underdog. Given the Buckeye defense shouldn’t have much trouble containing Miami (OH) regardless of the approach their offense takes, my hope would be Ryan Day elects to keep schemes relatively simple this weekend, much like my expectation for the offense. That means more man coverage, less zone, few if any blitz designs, and no bullet packages or deviations from the base 4-3 defense unless absolutely necessary. The less film you can give the opponents on the horizon that actually matter, the better.
The Bottom Line
Miami ranks 21st on this week’s edition of Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings, but since you’re probably more interested in Miami (OH)’s ranking, know that they’re way further back at 98th overall in the FBS out of 130 teams. That puts them in company with Florida International and Les Miles’ Kansas team that just won its first road game against a Power 5 school in over 11 years this past weekend.
The RedHawks have no hope. This isn’t one of those cute gimmicky MAC teams like Garrett Wolfe’s 2006 Northern Illinois team, this is just one of those MAC teams that you wish would stay out of Ohio State’s football affairs for the sake of their own well-being. It’s not entirely unrealistic to expect a 300+ yard team-rushing performance from the Buckeyes, and I wouldn’t put it past a defense that has impressed so far in this young season to hang their second shutout of the year on Miami (OH). Either way, this game will be a welcome sight for Buckeye fans that tune in to watch Wisconsin beat Michigan 13-3 on Saturday morning.