After finally snapping a school-record 21-game losing streak, the Miami University football team is looking to start a new streak by defeating Mid-American Conference foe the University of Akron.
It won't be an easy task for the RedHawks (1-5, 1-1 MAC), as the Zips (3-2, 1-0 MAC) are a formidable foe.
"They are definitely a good team," junior linebacker Kent Kern said. "One of the better teams in the MAC for sure this year … they aren't the Akron of old."
Head coach Chuck Martin agreed with his star linebacker.
"I think they are clearly one of the best teams in this league, if not right up there with the best teams," Martin said. "I think they think this is their year. They are a pretty talented group."
Akron's defense is one of the best in the conference. The Zips give up just 17 points per game, tops in the MAC and 15th best in the nation.
"Their defense, they are really good," Martin said. "They might be the best defense overall we've play. They are so fast and physical at every position. They are dominating the league statistically. They are way ahead in points per game and yards per game … We're gonna have our work cut out for us offensively for sure."
The 'Hawks will counter with offense built around reigning MAC East Offensive Player of the Week and ESPN Capital One Impact Performer of the Week Andrew Hendrix. The fifth-year senior quarterback knows he has his work cut out for him.
"They are an opportunity and a challenge for us," Hendrix said. "One of the better teams we'll face this season. We're excited to get to go against them."
One of the biggest keys for Miami is shaking the inconsistency that has plagued them all season. The comeback victory against the University of Massachusetts was a prime example. Miami gave up 41 points in the first half and needed 28 unanswered to defeat UMass.
"It's just whether or not the right Miami is gonna show up," Hendrix said. "Is it gonna be first half UMass, first half Michigan, where you're making the mistakes, you're going backwards, giving up big plays on defense, turning over the ball. If that Miami shows up, its gonna be a long day for us and we know that. But if the good Miami shows up, we can compete with anybody and we've shown that."
It may have taken Miami 22 games to get a win, but getting the first one is always hardest.
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"We feel like we got the monkey off our back," senior cornerback Quinten Rollins said. "That's what we needed. That first win was what we needed to get rolling."
Miami faces the Zips 2 p.m. Sunday in Akron. Fans can listen to the game on redhawkradio.com.
"We're definitely trying to run the table and get to a bowl game," Rollins said. "We are not trying to have the season end at 12 games. We want to play that 13th."