OXFORD — Miami University and Bowling Green State University will square-off on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Bowling Green, Ohio. The game is scheduled to begin at noon inside Doyt Perry Stadium.
Miami comes into Saturday’s contest with an 1-6 record with losses to Iowa, Eastern Illinois, Western Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio and Akron. Despite the record, many positives can be found.
• Miami has outgained its opponent in four of seven games.
• The RedHawks have won the turnover battle in four games and tied in another.
• In four of seven games Miami has held the ball for over 30 minutes of action.
• Miami had fourth quarter leads against Eastern Illinois and Cincinnati and were an on-side kick away from having a chance to tie up the game versus the Hilltoppers. Miami also had the ball down by three points with three minutes to play versus Ohio.
Bowling Green is 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the MAC after being picked to finish first in the MAC East preseason poll back in July at media day in Detroit, Michigan. Offensively, they average 20.7 points and 387.3 yards per game and are led by quarterback James Morgan (148.7 passing/game). BGSU quarterbacks have thrown 17 interceptions this season. On the other side of the ball they allow 45.9 points and 519.1 yards passing per game.
Miami is 42-23-5 all time versus Bowling Green, including a 20-10-4 record in contests at Bowling Green. These two teams have not seen each other since BGSU won a 45-3 contest back in 2013. Miami has not traveled to face the Falcons since 2012, a contest Bowling Green won 37-12. BG is currently riding a three game win streak in the series. Miami’s last win at BG was in 2010, a 24-21 victory that was won on a last second field goal through dense fog.
Bolstered by the return of redshirt sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland, the Miami University football team earned its first win of the season last Saturday. Raglund finished the contest 10-for-21 with two touchdowns and 181 yards including a game winning drive with 90 seconds remaining in the contest. He also helped Miami on the ground game, leading the team in rushing with 36 yards.
The RedHawks defense held Kent State to only 262 total yards on the day, making several key plays to preserve the victory. Sophomore linebacker Junior McMullen led Miami with 10 tackles, while redshirt junior defensive lineman Zach Smierciak finished with seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss.
Zach Smierciak recorded a career-high seven tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss, helping the RedHawks hold the Golden Flashes to just 262 total yards, including a mere 99 through the air to earn MAC East Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career. The redshirt junior added a sack as Kent State was attempting to take the lead with under 60 seconds remaining in the contest to help to secure the victory.
In the win over Kent State, Miami erased an 11 point deficit midway through the third quarter, scoring the game’s final 15 points of the contest. The last time Miami came from down at least 10 points was in a 42-41 victory over UMass back in 2014, a contest they trailed 41-10 late in the second quarter.
If Miami were to win this week versus Bowling Green it would move the Red and White to 2-2 in conference play and give Miami its second straight win. The last time Miami was .500 or better midway through conference play was back in 2012 (2-2). The last time Miami won back-to-back games was on Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 of 2012.
Over the past three weeks, Miami’s defense has played some incredible football. Versus Ohio, the Bobcats came into the contest averaging 36.8 points and 490.2 yards per game and finished the contest with 17 points (defense only gave up 7) and 197 yards. At Akron, the Zips did manage 35 points, but only recorded 299 yards (came into the contest averaging 437.6 per game). This past week versus Kent State, they held the Golden Flashes to a mere 262 yards of offense and 14 points.
As mentioned above, the Miami defense has been outstanding the past three games, all MAC contests. Here are a few more numbers on one of the best defenses in MAC play only.
• In MAC games only, Miami ranks first in the conference in total defense, allowing just 252.7 yards per game. Kent State is second at 336.7 yards.
• Miami ranks fourth in MAC games only, allowing 143.0 yards rushing per game.
• Miami ranks first in pass defense, allowing 109.7 yards passing per game in three MAC contests. They are second in pass efficiency in MAC games (100.9).
After throwing nine interceptions in his first 63 pass attempts of his career (1 INT every 7 throws), Billy Bahl has been taking care of the ball. In his final 157 passes of 2015 he turned the ball over just four times and has thrown 125 passes and four interceptions this season. In all, he has thrown just eight interceptions in his last 282 pass attempts (1 interception every 35.3 passes).
Billy Bahl made his first career start versus Ohio in the middle of the 2015 season, completing 8-of-23 passes for 150 yards and four interceptions in a 34-3 loss in Athens. A year later, the improvements are obvious.
• Bahl ranks fifth in the MAC in passing per game (230.8) and ninth in total offense (232.6). Bahl averaged 128 yards passing per game a year ago.
• He has thrown for eight touchdowns this season after throwing eight all of last year.
• Bahl is completing 55-percent of his passes this season, compared to 48-percent a year ago.
• Bahl currently ranks 17th nationally in yards per attempt at 9.2.
With Billy Bahl nursing an injury, true freshman quarterback Noah Wezensky made his first career start at Akron. Wezensky completed 14-of-28 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown, while throwing two interceptions.
Versus Ohio, Wezensky played the entire second half after Bahl went to the locker room with that injury. Wezensky would complete 14-of-25 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown in his first action as a RedHawk (Bahl had taken every snap at quarterback up to that point).
In the win at Kent State Miami started its third different quarterback in as many games in redshirt sophomore Gus Ragland. In the win, the Cincinnati, Ohio, native completed 10-of-21 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns … all career bests. The remarkable part though is that Ragland suffered a torn ACL injury back on April 10 and had surgery on April 17. Less than six months later he was starting a Division I college football game.
Over the past three weeks Miami has started three different quarterbacks.
Week 1-5: Sophomore Billy Bahl
Week 6: Freshman Noah Wezensky
Week 7: Redshirt sophomore Gus Ragland
Last season James Gardner had three catches for 72 yards as a freshman for the RedHawks offense. This season he already has more touchdown catches than he had receptions in 2015. The sophomore leads the team in catches (26), yards (461) and touchdowns (5). Gardner had scored touchdowns in four straight games this season. His five touchdown catches rank fourth in the MAC.