By Rick Jabot
Fresh off a 27-0 victory over Bowling Green last week, the Miami University football team travels to face the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday, Oct. 14. Opening kick is slated for 3:30 p.m.
The matchup with Western Michigan will be carried live on ESPN+. Michael Reghi will handle play-by-play duties, while Marcus Ray will serve as the color analyst.
In its fifth year of its partnership with Van Wagner, the Miami Sports Network continues its coverage of Miami Football with a group of affiliates blanketing most of Southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana. “The Voice of the RedHawks” Steve Baker will deliver the play-by-play coverage, while Terry Bridge will provide color commentary. Tune-in to one of Miami’s gameday affiliates:
WMOH-AM 1450 (Hamilton, Ohio)
WFMG-FM 101.3 (Richmond, Ind.)
WDBZ-AM 1230 (Cincinnati, Ohio)
WONE-AM 980 (Dayton, Ohio)
First And Ten
• Miami football ranks first all-time in the Mid-American Conference in wins (718), conference wins (312), MAC Championships (16) and bowl wins (8).
• Historically, Miami’s 718 career wins, ranks third all-time among Group-of-Five programs, behind just Navy (735) and Army (722).
• Miami was 4-14 in Coach Martin’s first 18 Mid-American Conference games. Since then, the RedHawks are 36-16 in their last 52 games versus schools from the MAC, the best record in the conference during that span.
• Miami has now had a .500 or better conference record in six of the last seven seasons, dating back to 2016. The RedHawks also captured the 2019 MAC Championship game and were a two-point conversion away versus Kent State from playing in the 2021 MACC.
• Martin, in his 10th year leading the RedHawks, has a new look on offense in 2023. Offensive Coordinator Pat Welsh returns for his 10th year with Martin, but his first as offensive coordinator. Defensively, Bill Brechin begins year two as the defensive coordinator (10th year at Miami). Special Teams Coordinator Jacob Bronowski is in his second year with the Red and White.
• Miami is 14-8 in one-score games, dating back to the 2018 campaign.
• After competing in the 2022 Bahamas Bowl, the RedHawks have now been bowl eligible six of the last seven seasons. From 2006-15, Miami was bowl eligible just twice.
• The RedHawks have picked up Power-5 victories in two straight years, downing Cincinnati (31-24) this season and Northwestern (17-14) a year ago.
• A win on Saturday would be Miami’s first 3-0 MAC start since 2010.
• Not only was he 74-7 in six years at Grand Valley State (2004-09), he has coached in seven national championship games in the past 20 seasons. Martin has an all-time head coaching record of 124-67.
• He has twice been named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National Coach of the Year and has been a coordinator on both sides of the ball.
• Martin was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Grand Valley State University on Oct. 23, 2015.
About Western Michigan
Western Michigan is 2-4 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. Quarterback Hayden Wolf, a transfer from Old Dominion, made his first career start for the Broncos last week versus Mississippi State and threw for 262 yards and three scores in the 42-28 loss. Defensive back Tate Hallock is tops on the team with 46 tackles and two interceptions.
Series Vs. Broncos
The RedHawks lead the all-time series 37-24-1 and own a winning record in Kalamazoo (15-14). The Broncos have captured the last eight meetings between the programs.
Western Michigan held off the RedHawks 16-10 last October to snap the second-longest home win streak in Miami program history (16 games). Brett Gabbert threw for 222 yards to lead the RedHawks, who had not lost at Yager Stadium since September 2018 (also vs. WMU), a span of 1,484 days.
Robert Jencks knocked home a 22-yard field goal with 4:10 left in the fourth quarter to give Miami a come-from-behind 15-14 victory over WMU in its 1960 home opener. The Red and White trailed 14-6 in the final period before rallying to defeat the Broncos for the 14th consecutive time. With the win, Miami improved to 13-0 all-time in MAC openers.
RedHawks Blank BGSU 27-0
The Miami University football team defeated Bowling Green 27-0 last Saturday to remain unbeaten in Mid-American Conference play. The RedHawks posted their first shutout since 2007 and extended their longest winning streak in 20 years to five games. Brett Gabbert completed 83% of his passes (15-18), throwing for 170 yards and two scores, and averaged better than five yards per carry. Miami held Bowling Green to 135 yards of total offense (63 rushing, 72 passing).
Tidbits From BGSU Contest
• Gabbert moved into third place in program history with his 57th career touchdown pass, passing Gus Ragland (56).
• Graham Nicholson’s 52-yard field goal was the longest of his career and the sixth-longest in school history.
• Matt Salopek made seven tackles, including the 300th of his career.
• Ty Wise’s interception was the first of his career.
• Four different RedHawks recorded sacks: Wise, Brian Ugwu, Corey Suttle, and Caiden Woullard.
• Miami converted 9 of 14 third downs (64.3%) and controlled the ball for nearly 40 of the game’s 60 minutes (39:29 to 20:31).
Bend But Don’t Break
At times, Miami’s defense has surrendered yards between the 20’s, but once the opposition gets to the red zone, the RedHawks have turned them away. In 18 trips inside Miami’s 20-yard line, the RedHawks have allowed just six touchdowns.
Best of Both Worlds
Both Miami’s offense and defense rank near the top of every statistical category among the 12 MAC programs. Offensively, Miami ranks second in scoring (31.2), third in total offense (385.5), second in rushing (174.0) and fourth in passing (211.5). On the defensive side, Miami ranks second in scoring allowed (18.8), third in total defense (338.2) and rushing (126.8) and sixth in passing (211.3).
Monsters of the MAC
As good as the numbers are above, Miami’s defense has been downright frightening in conference play. Through two games, Miami ranks first in scoring (1.5), total defense (170.5), rushing (49.5), sacks (5.5), third down conversions (17.4%), time of possession (34:52) and is second in passing defense (121.0).
147 Minutes and Counting…
Miami enters Saturday’s contest, having not allowed a touchdown in the last 147:15, and has surrendered just three points over the past two games combined. The last time Miami went back-to-back games without allowing a touchdown was on Oct. 11 and Oct. 18, 2003 (beat Buffalo 59-3 and Ball State 49-3). Miami has not allowed a touchdown since early in the third quarter versus Delaware State on Sept. 23.
Since early in the 2016 season Miami has lost back-to-back MAC games just twice in that span. In fact, Miami is now 13-2 following a MAC loss under Martin, dating back to Oct. 15, 2016.
Five Things to Know About No. 5 Brett Gabbert
• Younger brother of NFL quarterback, Blaine Gabbert.
• Gabbert was named the 2019 MAC Freshman of the Year, joining Ben Roethlisberger (2001) and Deland McCullough (1992) as the only other RedHawks to capture this award.
• When Miami opened the 2019 season at Iowa, Gabbert became the first true freshman quarterback to open the season as the starter in Miami football history.
• Is responsible for 60 touchdowns (55 passing, 5 rushing) in his Miami career.
• Ranks third in program history with 7,491 passing yards and is sixth in completion percentage (.589) and third in passing touchdowns (57).
He’s Got Legs And He Knows How to Use Them
With nearly 7,500 career passing yards, it would be easy to forget the impact Brett Gabbert’s rushing ability plays in the Miami offense. The junior has 449 career rushing yards to go along five touchdowns. This season he recorded a career-high 75 yards rushing in the win over Cincinnati and was second on the team with 47 yards rushing last week in the victory over Bowling Green.
Coming from a smaller school (Southeast Louisiana), Gage Larvadain did not receive much interest from the major programs, something Miami is thankful for. In his debut with the RedHawks, Larvadain had a game-high eight grabs for 80 yards versus the Hurricanes. He followed that up with eight catches for 273 yards and three scores versus UMass and had a 79-yard touchdown on the opening play versus Cincinnati. Despite missing the past two games, Larvadain currently ranks 26th in the nation with 438 receiving yards.
Through six games, the Miami offense is averaging 16.3 yards per completion, which ranks fifth in the country. On the season, Brett Gabbert has 1,232 yards passing on just 77 completions and nine different receivers are averaging over 14.0 yards per catch.
Miami’s offensive line had two major holes to fill along the offensive line after losing both Rusty Feth and Caleb Shaffer to the transfer portal. Combined, those two started 69 games, dating back to 2019. Miami still has plenty of experience in 2023. Reid Holskey has started each of the last 32 games for the Red and White, followed by Will Jados (16), Sam Vaughan (15), Kolby Borders (15), Ben Jackson (7) and John Young (6).
Linebacker Matt Salopek has 302 career tackles and has surpassed 100 stops in each of the past two years. With 100 tackles (has 54 currently) in 2023 he would become the first Miami player to secure 100-plus tackles in three-straight seasons since Matt Pusateri did the same from 2002-04.
Nothing But Net
Placekicker Graham Nicholson has been perfect in 2023, connecting on 11-of-11 field goals and all 19 of his extra points. In his career, he is 44-of-54 (81.5%) on field goals, including a game-winner last season at Northwestern. He also drilled a career-long 52-yarder in the win over BGSU.
Special, Special Teams
Graham Nicholson leads the MAC with 11 made field goals and he is the only kicker in the conference that has yet to miss a kick. Punter Alec Bevelhimer leads the MAC with a 47.1 yard average and Gage Larvadain is second in the league with an 11.0 punt return average. Through six weeks of action, Miami has captured MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week four times.
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