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RedHawks punch ticket to paradise with stunning victory over Ball State

<p>Miami football is bowl eligible in 2023 for the fifth time in the last five full seasons.</p>

Miami football is bowl eligible in 2023 for the fifth time in the last five full seasons.

Last Tuesday, exactly three hours before kickoff between Miami and Ball State,the Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced on Twitter that the winner of that night’s game would be headed to the Bahamas Bowl.

To gain bowl eligibility, a team must win six games in a season. Going into Tuesday, both Miami and Ball State were 5-6.

On Tuesday, in spectacular fashion, the RedHawks punched their ticket to paradise. The RedHawks will face off against the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Blazers in the Bahamas Bowl on Friday, December 16, at 11:30 a.m. EST. If you aren’t able to get yourself to Nassau, Bahamas for the game, it will be broadcast on ESPN that day. 

How they got there 

Going into the fourth quarter, Miami was down 17-6. This year’s Cardinals have a potent rushing attack that’s led by sophomore Carson Steele, college football’s sixth leading rusher in 2022. Miami’s defense was holding strong though. The offense on the other hand had obviously sputtered to that point.

Then, after two fourth quarter Miami punts, it really looked like Ball State was headed to the Bahamas. But Miami’s defense held strong. Finally, on Miami’s third drive of the final quarter, the offense got going. 

After four complete passes and a pass interference penalty on that drive, Miami was on Ball State’s 18-yard line. The pocket broke down on the drive’s final play and redshirt-first-year quarterback Aveon Smith rolled right and kept running. He juked a Cardinal defender and then turned on the jets, all the way to the end zone. 17-12 Ball State.

After one first down, Ball State got to fourth and one on their next drive. They needed one yard to effectively seal the game. Once again, somehow, Miami’s defense came up clutch.

Smith got the ball back with 3:05 remaining. A little more than a minute later, he found redshirt-junior receiver Miles Marshall streaking down the right sideline. Falling into the end zone, Marshall made the biggest and most beautiful catch of Miami’s season to put the RedHawks ahead 18-17. It was number two on SportsCenter’s top ten plays the next day. 

Miami didn’t convert the ensuing two point attempt, but it didn’t matter. The RedHawk defense stood strong one more time to seal the win. 

The Bahamas Bowl

The Bahamas Bowl is one of the most desirable bowl destinations in college football. In past years, participating teams have stayed at the luxurious Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, which is technically a part of Nassau, Bahamas.

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The game is played at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau.

The Bahamas Bowl matchup

Miami will be playing UAB in the Bahamas Bowl. UAB finished tied for fourth in Conference USA this year. The Blazers boast the nation’s leading rusher, DeWayne McBride, who has gained 1713 yards this season despite missing one of UAB’s games. McBride also finished second in Division I with 19 rushing touchdowns. The RedHawks will have their hands full containing Mcbride, who has averaged 7.4 yards per carry this season.

Smith will be looking to solidify his spot as Miami’s starting quarterback of the future. Star junior quarterback Brett Gabbert, who missed all but four games this season due to injury, announced he was transferring from Miami earlier this week.

Last year, Miami won the inaugural Frisco Football Classic 27-14 against North Texas. The RedHawks are looking for their second bowl win under eighth-year head coach Chuck Martin. 

The Bahamas Bowl will be the first bowl game played out of 43 on college football’s schedule in 2022. 

The game kicks off at 11:30 a.m. EST on Friday, December 16.