Senior wide receiver Dawan Scott looks to the sideline for the playcall during Miami's 34-10 loss to the University of Michigan. Scott has averaged more than 10 touches per game.
Photo by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor
Bragging rights are on the line this week as the Miami University football team takes on rival University of Cincinnati in the Battle for the Victory Bell. Miami leads the series 59-52-7 all-time, but UC has had the bragging rights lately. The Bearcats have won the past eight matchups.
"When you come to Miami, every single person that is an alum talks about Cincinnati and OU," head coach Chuck Martin said of the rivalry. "You learn about it immediately. We have so many alums from this area, this greater Cincinnati area that they live it all year round. At work, there are Cincinnati people and Miami people … It's very important to our school and our alumni base."
Miami (0-3) enters the matchup on a 19-game losing streak, while UC is coming off its season-opening 58-34 win over the University of Toledo. The Bearcats had two byes to start the season, but the offense looked like it was in mid-season form.
Sophomore quarterback Gunner Kiel, who was making his first career collegiate appearance after transferring from Notre Dame, guided the offense. Kiel had a monstrous performance, completing 25 of 37 passes for 418 yards and six touchdowns.
Martin is familiar with Kiel from their time together at Notre Dame.
"He's very talented, he's very competitive and he was a great, great player in high school," Martin said. "He's gonna be a handful for us and he was a handful for Toledo last week."
Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix is also familiar with Kiel.
"We were roommates for fall camp one year," Hendrix said. "He's a really good kid, comes from a really good family. Really good pedigree football-wise. He's competitive, big, strong athletic guy. I saw some comments Coach Martin made, and those are pretty accurate. He's a good football player."
Miami's defense has its work cut out for it against Kiel and company. The RedHawks do have the reining Mid-American Conference East Defensive Player of the Week in their secondary. Cornerback Quinten Rollins never won the award as basketball player at Miami, but it took him just three weeks to win it as a football player. He leads the MAC in interceptions with two.
"I really don't pay attention to what's going on outside as far as accolades, I'm just trying to get better each and every week and get wins," Rollins said. "I'm here to win. We're 0-3 and I feel like we beat ourselves each and every week."
The RedHawk offense has struggled with self-inflicted wounds for much of the season, be it false starts or turnovers. The 'Hawks face a defense led by senior middle linebacker Jeff Luc, who transferred from Florida State after two seasons. He was highly recruited out of high school and led the team with 12 tackles against Toledo.
"Hopefully we'll do the things we need to do offensively," Hendrix said. "Mainly, stop shooting ourselves in the foot. That's been the theme for us the last three weeks."
Miami's losing streak stands at 19 and the Bearcats are favored by 28 points this week. The 'Hawks want to snap that streak, but wanting something isn't enough for according to Martin.
"Talking about winning is different than preparing to win," Martin said. "Our kids want to win and they're playing hard and competing harder, we're not playing smart enough. And some of it is focus and some of it is preparation, which is still our biggest Achilles heel. Our Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday isn't good enough. It's not bad, but it isn't good enough or consistent enough."
The RedHawks and Bearcats kickoff at 7 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday. The Bearcats are playing their games at Paul Brown because Nippert Stadium is undergoing renovations. Fans can listen to the game on redhawkradio.com.