This year’s matchup in the longest non-Conference Rivalry, “The Battle for the Victory Bell”, looks to be more competitive than years past. The Bearcats winner of five straight in the series look to continue their streak against a Redhawk team that is coming off of one of their best seasons in recent memory.
Last year, Miami won the GoDaddy.com bowl vs. Middle Tennessee State and won the MAC with a record of 10-4 (7-1) showing remarkable progress under then Head Coach, Michael Hayward. That team returns 51 letter winners with eight returning offensive starters and nine returning defensive starters. This includes starting QB, Junior Zac Dysert, who has the highest completion percentage (63%) of any Miami quarterback not named Ben Roethlisberger. Senior Chris Givens gives Dysert a big target downfield at 6’2 and 204lbs. Givens along with returning receivers Nick Hartwell and Andy Cruise, looks to give Miami one of the best passing attacks in the MAC. Whether that offense will be enough against a Big East team has yet to be shown, but an early season test vs. Missouri will be a good litmus test for this offense’s true potential. New Head Coach Don Treadwell brings a long pedigree of success as an offensive coordinator for Michigan State under former Bearcats Coach Mark Dantonio and the offense looks to make further strides under his tutelage.
The Miami defense returns Lombardi watch list and 2nd Team All-MAC DT Austin Brown, who as a junior looks to produce a monster year on the D-line. Behind him, defensive stalwarts Jerrell Wedge, Ryan Kennedy, and Evan Harris all return at linebacker and will have their hands full attempting to lock down explosive Bearcats RB, Isiah Pead. If there is possibly a bigger challenge for the Redhawks in this game it will be the Redhawk’s secondary vs. Zach Collaros who is both a running and passing threat.
In the end, the key matchups look to be the Bearcats secondary vs. Dysert and company and the Miami front seven lead by Brown vs. Pead and the Bearcats ground game. While Miami hasn’t made this a game in years past expect this game to be a hard fought battle at Yager Stadium.
My prediction is Bearcats 38, Miami 27.