UB Stadium – Buffalo, NY
The Buffalo Bulls have fared well against Miami’s RedHawks in recent years. Although MU has a 12-6 all-time advantage, Buffalo emerged victorious in the last four meetings. When they kickoff Saturday at UB Stadium, Miami will be seeking its first win there since 2010.
MU won the MAC title with a strong finish that year, winning five of its last six games before edging Northern Illinois in the title game and going on to win a bowl game. The RedHawks now are actually trying to go one better on that 2010 regular season finish. After failing to win in the first six games this year, they have won four straight and are shooting for two more to close the campaign.
Standing in their way are . . .
Buffalo (2-7, 1-4 MAC) can’t reach the six wins mark and has lost five of its last six contests. The one win, however, suggests the Bulls can still be a very dangerous team. UB’s most recent home game was a 41-20 thrashing of Akron back on Oct. 27. That knocked the Zips out of a first place tie with Ohio at the time.
Also making a big contribution that night was freshman quarterback Tyree Jackson (6-7, 245). As a ball carrier, he rushed nine times for 60 yards and added two touchdowns of his own.
Passing is a different story for UB, which ranks last in pass efficiency. Jackson completed just 7 of 21 attempts for 140 yards with one TD and one interception in the win over Akron. He has completed 53.9 percent of his passes, with nine TDs and eight interceptions, on the year.
Miami, meanwhile, leads the league in interceptions (12) and is fourth in pass defense efficiency. The RedHawks are first in total defense (344.2 ypg) and fourth in scoring defense (24.8 ppg).
Actually, many of Miami’s overall statistics might be more accurately assessed by looking at the season in two parts – the first six games (all losses) being one part and the next four (all wins) as another part. For example, MU averaged 17.0 ppg through six outings and has scored 30.8 ppg since Gus Ragland took over at quarterback and the RedHawks registered four straight wins.
The running game also improved, going from 99.2 ypg to 185.2 ypg. Running back Kenny Young has been a big part of that, ripping off some huge (and timely runs/receptions) in each of the victories. Alonzo Smith has done much of the tough work inside, while Maurice Thomas has brought another element of speed to the backfield when healthy.
Defensively, Miami went from allowing 29.3 ppg to 18.0 ppg over the past four contests. The RedHawks also managed to halve opponent rushing, cutting the rush output from 156.8 ypg to 75.2 ypg.
Another big difference maker for Miami has been turnovers. The RedHawks were -5 over the first six games and since then own a +6 margin. Part of that credit goes to Ragland, who has completed 10 TDs while throwing zero interceptions. The redshirt sophomore, who took over starting duties after rehabbing from a spring ACL injury, has completed 60 of 100 attempts for 789 yards.
Rokeem Williams led MU with three receptions for 61 yards against Central Michigan. Sam Shisso, Jared Murphy, tight end Ryan Smith and Young each caught TD passes from Ragland, who earned MAC East Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Known as an excellent runner coming out of high school, Ragland has brought some very useful mobility to the RedHawks offense. That, along with a decrease in penalties and the positive change in turnovers, has kept Miami drives moving.
Finally, during the season opening losing streak, MU struggled putting games away down the stretch. More recently, the second half has been part of the success. In last week’s win over Central Michigan, Miami gained 163 yards rushing the ball and held the visitors to -11 yard on the ground while pitching a second half shutout in the 37-17 victory.