Miami-Ohio (0-3) vs. Cincinnati (1-0) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Paul Brown Stadium (65,535) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Miami-Ohio 0-2, Cincinnati 1-0. Away Record: Miami-Ohio 0-1, Cincinnati 0-0. Neutral Record: Miami-Ohio 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Conference Record: Miami-Ohio 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 59-52-7.
GAME NOTES: After three straight losses to open the season, the Miami-Ohio RedHawks will try for their first win as they go up in front of a large crowd at Paul Brown Stadium against the Cincinnati Bearcats in a non-conference tilt on Saturday.
Miami played well for awhile last weekend against Michigan, staying with the Wolverines for a better part of the first half. Michigan went into the locker room at the end of the first half with a slim 17-10 lead, but opened up the second half and ultimately running to a 34-10 victory. The matchup against Cincinnati will be the second of a three-game road test for the RedHawks.
Cincinnati had an open first two weeks of the season, and finally kicked things off last weekend with a demolition of another Mid-American Conference squad in Toledo. The Bearcats ran to a 58-34 victory over the Rockets, and now the American Athletic Conference program will try its luck against a team that went winless in 2013.
This series has a rich history. The RedHawks and Bearcats have met 118 times going back to the 1888 season. Considering they are intrastate rivals, they play each other regularly, with Miami holding a slim 59-52-7 all-time series lead.
Although the teams were fairly even in terms of the score Saturday, Miami proved to eventually be the inferior team offensively against Michigan. The RedHawks only recorded eight first downs in the entire contest, and managed just 198 yards of total offense. Quarterback Andrew Hendrix, a Notre Dame transfer, passed for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception. In three games, he has as many touchdown tosses (five) as he does interceptions.
The running game needs to step up as well. Miami is averaging a mere 64.3 rushing ypg through three contests, and has yet to score a touchdown on the ground this season. Spencer McInnins is the team's leader with 66 yards on 17 carries, while Hendrix leads the team with 44 carries, but just 14 net yards. McInnis led Miami on Saturday with just 12 yards on the ground.
Dawan Scott entered the season as Hendrix's premiere target, and he enters the game against Cincinnati with a team-best two touchdown catches so far. David Frazier tops the squad with 17 receptions for 267 yards, while Rokeem Williams is the only other Miami player to record double-digit receptions (10) through three games.
The struggles haven't been limited to just the offensive side of the ball, though. Defensively, Miami is allowing 31 ppg to opponents, and 390.7 combined ypg as well. At least the RedHawks have been proficient at forcing turnovers, having recorded four fumble recoveries and two interceptions through three contests this season. They've been solid on third down too, limiting opponents to a 29-percent conversion rate.
Jarrell Jones topped the squad against Michigan with 12 tackles, and as a unit the RedHawks recovered two fumbles and picked off Wolverines starter Devin Gardner once. Jones is second on the team with 22 tackles this season, behind linebacker Kent Kern. Kern has notched 31 stops with a team-high four tackles for loss, two sacks and has one fumble recovery. If the offense can start producing, Miami could start winning games.
Cincinnati blasted Toledo on Friday, and won't play a game out of the state of Ohio until mid-October. Notre Dame transfer Gunner Kiel got the start for the Bearcats in the contest, and absolutely dominated with his 37 pass attempts. Kiel completed 25-of-37 for 418 yards and six touchdowns, with a long of 52 yards in the win. Munchie Legaux also saw time under center, but attempted just five passes.
Rod Moore recorded the only rushing touchdown of the game for Cincinnati last weekend, but it was Hosey Williams that led the team with 103 yards on the ground.
Kiel's success under center meant a big game for several of his top wideouts, including Mekale McKay, who hauled in a team-best nine receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown. Shaq Washington, Max Morrison, Alex Chisum, Chris Moore and Nate Cole all helped out in the win with touchdown catches. Although it was their first game, the Bearcats looked to be in mid-season form.
Cincinnati's defense didn't perform as well as its offense in the win over Toledo, and will have an opportunity this weekend to get things under control against a sub-par RedHawks unit. The Bearcats allowed 563 yards of offense to the Rockets, including 240 on the ground. In 2013, Cincinnati allowed more than 31 points just twice all season (including to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl), and has already given up 34 points in its first game.
The Bearcat defense is still full of playmakers though. Jeff Luc led the squad in tackles against Toledo with 12, and added a pass breakup to his stat line. Defensive end Terrell Hartsfield had 1.5 sacks in the win, and fellow lineman Chris Burton added a sack of his own. Zach Edwards notched a double-digit tackle total of his own with 11 in the contest. Look for the Cincinnati defense to bounce back to form this weekend.
Something needs to change for Miami offensively, and it needs to happen fast. Hendrix was brought in to provide a spark for the RedHawks, but so far the group as a whole has been a dud. That won't fly this weekend against a high- octane attack led by Kiel, who won't hesitate to bury the RedHawks in front of a larger-than-normal crowd at the home of the NFL's Bengals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 49, Miami-Ohio 14Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 20, 7 p.m. (ET)