Photo by Lauren Olson, Photography Editor
The task of snapping an 18-game losing streak doesn't get any easier this week for the Miami University football team. The RedHawks take on the University of Michigan in "The Big House," the largest stadium in America.
Miami is a heavy underdog, with the Wolverines favored by 31 points.
"Awesome opponent with national caliber players," head coach Chuck Martin said. "Incredible environment. Anyone that hasn't been there on game day; it's a pretty awesome spectacle."
Both Miami (0-2) and Michigan (1-1) enter the matchup coming off a loss. Miami lost 17-10 to Eastern Kentucky University and the Wolverines lost 31-0 to rival Notre Dame.
Martin said Notre Dame gave the blueprint for how to beat Michigan.
"If you want a clinic on how to win football games, you look at the Notre Dame game," Martin said. "It wasn't necessarily the greatest statistical game, but it was efficient on both sides of the ball and special teams."
Of course, Notre Dame is the former home of Martin and fifth-year seniors Andrew Hendrix, tight end Alex Welch and cornerback Lo Wood. Martin grew up a Notre Dame fan, but said there isn't any hatred for Michigan.
"I never really disliked Michigan …" Martin said. "Yeah, Notre Dame was the team I rooted for growing up being a south side Irish Catholic from Chicago. But if Michigan wasn't playing Notre Dame I didn't have an utter disdain [for Michigan] or even USC. I respect Michigan football, I always have. I respect programs that do it right and they've always done it right."
Despite Martin's ties to the Notre Dame coaching staff, he said he hasn't talked to Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly about the game. He hasn't done so because he's already seen the Notre Dame-Michigan game multiple times.
"[The game] was on at night, so I watched most of it live," Martin said in his Monday press conference. "We already have the tape and I've watched the game like three times already."
What Martin saw on tape is that the Wolverines' offense runs through four players: redshirt senior QB Devin Gardner, sophomore running back Derrick Green, junior RB De'Veon Smith and junior wide receiver Devin Funchess.
Gardner was great against Appalachian State University in the season opener, but struggled against the Fighting Irish. For the season, Gardner has completed 36 of 46 passes for 362 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Green and Smith have formed a one-two punch at tailback. Green has 28 carries for 195 yards and a TD on the season. Smith has 15 carries for 145 yards and two scores.
Funchess, who moved from tight end to wide receiver this year, has 16 catches for 202 yards and three TDs. No other Wolverine has more than six catches and none have caught a TD pass.
Miami's defense was strong against EKU, but the challenge it faces against Michigan is much tougher.
"We're hoping to come out and have a big game against them," Wood said. "And finally get this W and keeping moving on from there."
The 'Hawks had six turnovers last week against EKU, which blew their chance for a victory. Henrdix said that can't be the case this week.
"We cannot go up there and shoot ourselves in the foot," Hendrix said. "That is one thing we cannot do. That's one thing we're not going to do …"
Even if Miami loses to Michigan, they won't return to Oxford empty handed. Michigan is paying Miami $1.1 million to play.
Miami and Michigan kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Ann Arbor. Fans can listen to the game live on redhawkradio.com.