MIAMI REDHAWKS FOOTBALL NOTES VS. MINNESOTA
MIAMI SPORTS INFORMATION
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP Miami University and the University of Minnesota will square-off on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium.
→ RedHawks are looking to avoid an 0-3 start to the 2018 campaign.
→ Miami travels to face a Big Ten opponent for the first time since falling to Iowa in 2016 season opener.
→ Following the contest with the Golden Gophers Miami will begin MAC play until it travels to Army on Oct. 20.
CINCINNATI RECAP The 123rd Battle for the Victory Bell saw Miami and Cincinnati battle through a rainy evening at Paul Brown Stadium. The RedHawk defense held the Bearcats to 233 total yards, but they were unable to crack the end zone in a 21-0 setback. The last time Miami was shut out was in 2015 at Wisconsin (58-0). Cincinnati outgained Miami by a 233-198 count with the bulk of the damage a 188-59 advantage in rushing yards. Didder led all players with 100 yards on the ground. Miami’s offense was led by James Gardner’s seven catches for 80 yards as Gus Ragland went 22-of-41 for 139 yards passing.
LAST MEETING: A dramatic finish came up just short as Miami University’s football team was edged by Minnesota, 29-23, on Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. With the final seconds ticking off the clock and needing a touchdown to tie and an extra point to win, senior wide receiver Chris Givens went up for the catch in the end zone from junior quarterback Zac Dysert, but the pass was broken up as the Golden Gophers escaped Miami’s late rally. Dysert completed 27-of-47 passes for 325 yards, including two touchdowns and one interception. It was the seventh 300-yard passing game of his career, and he moved into fifth place on Miami’s career passing list. Dysert now has 5,536 career passing yards. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Harwell hauled in 12 receptions for 162 yards. His 12 catches tie Eddie Tilltiz (2001 at Hawaii) for fourth on Miami’s single-game reception chart, and it was his third 100-yard receiving game.
ABOUT MINNESOTA Minnesota is currently 2-0 on the season with wins over New Mexico State and Fresno State. Quarterback Zack Annexstad has thrown for 395 yards and two scores this year, while running backs Rodney Smith (154) and Bryce Williams (118) have combined for 272 yards on the ground this season. Defensively they are led by Blake Cashman, who has 18 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss this season.
SERIES VS. MINNESOTA This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools, all taking place on the road for the Red and White. Miami last traveled to Minnesota back in 2011 in a 29-23 loss. Minnesota has won all three of the previous meetings.
WEATHER ISSUES Through two games this season Miami has already faced more than its fair share of weather issues. In the home opener versus Marshall the game was delayed for 150 minutes due to lightning in the area. Last week, the two teams played through a heavy rain fall for the entire game. Was estimated that the Cincinnati area saw between 4-5 inches of rain last Saturday.
PRESEASON HONORS Five RedHawks saw some love this preseason. James Gardner was honored on several occasions, named to the Biletnikkof and Maxwell Watch Lists. Kenny Young earned a spot on the Doak Walker Watch List, while Danny Godlevske (Rimington) and Nate Becker (John Mackey) also earned preseason national honors. Lastly, Gus Ragland was named to the Johnny Unitas and Manning Award Watch Lists.
RED MEANS GO Miami has scored on 20 of their last 21 red zone trips, dating back to last season. Of those 21 trips, 17 have resulted in touchdowns (80.9%). Two weeks ago against Marshall Miami scored four redzone touchdowns, but never got inside UC’s 20-yard line last week.
GARDNER GROWING James Gardner has still only played 32 games in his Miami career, but the senior is making his mark on the program. In 2016 he finished as a third-team All-MAC player, with 45 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns. Last season he had 47 catches for 927 yards and 11 scores, while averaging 19.7 yards per catch, earning first-team AllMAC honors. In his career he has 106 grabs, for 1,891 yards and 18 touchdowns. Only eight players in Miami history have surpassed 2,000 career receiving yards and just five have 20 or more career touchdowns.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Minnesota welcomes Miami University to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kick. The Gophers are 3-0 all-time against the RedHawks, as they posted win in 2011 (29-23), 2007 (41-35 3OT) and 1988 (35-3). All three previous games have been played in Minneapolis and Saturday will mark the second time that Miami has visited TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota is 31-4-1 all-time against the MAC (most recent win was against Buffalo in 2017, while most recent loss was to Northern Illinois in 2010). The Gophers will close out their non-conference schedule versus Miami on Saturday. Minnesota has won 13 straight non-conference games (including bowl games), which is the second longest active streak in the nation behind Utah (Utes have won 22 consecutive non-conference games). Minnesota last loss a non-conference game on Sept. 3, 2015, when it fell 23-17 to No. 2 TCU at home. The Gophers are 18-1 in their past 19 non-conference home games and have won nine straight non-conference games at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota is 2-0 for the second straight season under head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck is the first Gopher coach to start his first two seasons 2-0 since William Spaulding did so in 1922 (beat North Dakota and Indiana) and 1923 (beat Iowa State and Haskell). The last Minnesota head coach to start his first two seasons 3-0 was Alexander Jerrems in 1896 (beat South High, Minneapolis Central and Carleton) and 1897 (beat South High, Macalester and Carleton). Minnesota started 7-0 in 1896 and 4-0 in 1897. P.J. Fleck-coached teams have won nine straight regularseason, non-conference games. Minnesota is 5-0 in such games (beat Buffalo, Oregon State, Middle Tennessee in 2017 and New Mexico State and Fresno State in 2018) and Western Michigan was 4-0 in non-conference games in 2016 (beat Northwestern, North Carolina Central, Illinois and Georgia Southern). The last time a Fleck-coached team lost a regular season, non-conference game was Sept. 26, 2015, when Western Michigan fell 38-12 at No. 1 Ohio State. The Gophers have 113 players on the roster this season and 59 of those players – or 52.2 percent – are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. That’s the highest number in college football. Virginia is next at 50 percent and is then followed by Wake Forest (49.1 percent) and UCF (48.03 percent). The Gophers have 79 underclassmen of the roster, which is 69.9 percent of the team. That percentage ranks tenth in college football behind only Illinois, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, Cincinnati, UCLA, Virginia, Wake Forest, Western Michigan and Georgia Southern.
ABOUT THE REDHAWKS The Miami University RedHawks will be looking for their first win of the season when they come to Minnesota on Saturday. They lost 35-28 in their season opener to Marshall and 21-0 to Cincinnati last week. The RedHawks are led by veteran redshirt senior quarterback Gus Ragland. After beginning the 2016 season 0-6, head coach Chuck Martin turned to Ragland and he led Miami to six straight wins and a bowl appearance. He is strongest in the red zone where he has a 35:1 touchdown to interception ratio and seven rushing touchdowns. In front of Ragland is an experienced offensive line that returned all five starters from the 2017 season. They only allowed 21 sacks and helped Miami rush for a season average of 146.9 yards per game, the highest under Coach Martin. Overall, Miami has 121 career starts among its offensive line members, led by senior Sam McCollum (37). He is joined by senior Jordan Rigg (26), senior Mitch Palmer (21), sophomore Danny Godlevske (13), junior Matt Skibinski (10), junior Jarrett LaRubbio (10) and sophomore Tommy Doyle (6). Miami has an explosive wide receiver in senior James Gardener. In 2016 he finished as a third-team All-MAC player, with 45 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns. Last season he had 47 catches for 927 yards and 11 scores, while averaging 19.7 yards per catch, earning first-team All-MAC honors. He already has made 11 receptions for 142 yards this season. In his career he has 107 grabs, for 1,901 yards and 18 touchdowns. Only eight players in Miami history have surpassed 2,000 career receiving yards and just five have 20 or more career touchdowns. The RedHawks defense is still looking to force its first turnover of the season. Senior linebacker Junior McMullen leads the team with 19 tackles. Senior defensive back De’Andre Montgomery has 17 tackles and redshirt senior linebacker Brad Koenig has 13 tackles and one sack. Miami is coached by Chuck Martin who has more than 20 years of collegiate experience, including 11 years as a head coach. He has twice been named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National Coach of the Year, earning the honor in 2005 and 2006, and has coached in seven national championship games in the past 17 seasons. He has been the head coach at Miami since December 3, 2013 taking over a team that went 0-12 the season prior.