Through the first couple weeks of conference play, no team in the MAC has looked better than the Miami Ohio Redhawks. With their shutout win over Bowling Green last weekend, the Redhawks will take a five-game win streak on the road to Western Michigan to take on the Broncos. After previewing the game, I’ll break down why I’ll be backing the Redhawks to continue their five-game ATS streak.
Since conference play started for the Redhawks in week five, they have allowed just three points in two games. In their 27-0 win over Bowling Green this past weekend, Miami (OH) held the Falcons to under 100 passing and rushing yards for the game while also picking up four sacks. That performance now has the Redhawks ranked 29th in yards allowed and 23rd in points allowed per game.
The Redhawks' defensive dominance has them set up nicely for long-term success, as they’ve proven they can stop both running and passing games, ranking inside the top 50 in defensive EPA for each respective play type. Miami (OH) is also set up for success in the conference this season thanks to the play of quarterback Brett Gabbert, who enters this weekend with a 12:3 touchdown to interception ratio.
While the Redhawks have leaned more on their running game with a 58.62% run play percentage, the results have been explosive when they have dropped back to pass with Gabbert. Their average of 10.2 yards per pass has them ranked 5th in that statistical category and sets them up nicely against a Western Michigan defense that is 101st in EPA per pass play and 93rd in opponent completion percentage.
Western Michigan’s inability to stop teams on the ground or through the air has led to them allowing an average of 40.6 points and 436.8 yards per game. On the offensive side of the ball, Western Michigan is 112th in offensive success rate despite putting up a good effort against Mississippi State last weekend.
Quarterback Treyson Bourguet was held out of that game with an injury, so Hayden Wolff stepped in and threw for 262 yards with three touchdowns. As far as this week goes, the quarterback position looks like a game-time decision for the Broncos.
Sitting atop the MAC standings, Miami (OH) will enter this matchup as (-8.5) point road favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Having uncertainty at the quarterback position is not what you want when going into a game against the Redhawks’ defense, and no matter who ends up under center for the Broncos, I don’t think they’ll be able to put up enough points to stay in the game.
Western Michigan is averaging 35 pass attempts per game, yet across all of their quarterbacks, they still rank 70th in passing yards per game and 122nd in offensive success rate on the pass. That frankly won’t get the job done against Miami Ohio’s defense that is 20th in EPA per pass play and 36th in yards allowed per pass.
Offensively, Brett Gabbert could be in for a big day through the air since Western Michigan’s defense is 101st in EPA per pass play while allowing an average of 8.2 yards per pass. The Broncos also allow five yards per carry, so the Redhawks' willingness to establish their run game should pay off and lead to several scoring drives. Overall, I think the Redhawks can win and cover for the sixth straight week.
Miami (OH) (-8.5)