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RedHot RedHawks roll to sixth-straight victory with win over Western Michigan

<p>The RedHawks covered the spread for the sixth time in seven games this season. Saturday&#x27;s game was their fourth road win of the year.</p>

The RedHawks covered the spread for the sixth time in seven games this season. Saturday's game was their fourth road win of the year.

On Saturday, the Miami University football team went into historic Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and won its sixth game in a row. The RedHawks never trailed on the way to beating Western Michigan University 34-21.

It’s the first time since 2010 the RedHawks have started 3-0 in MAC play and the first time since 2003 they’ve started 6-1 overall. In both of those seasons, Miami won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship. 

In college football, it’s tough to win on the road. Oddsmakers give home teams an automatic three-point edge in point spreads because of the advantage playing at home gives. Saturday was the RedHawks’ fourth road victory of the season in five road games.

“We don’t care what the game looks like, we want to go play,” Miami head coach Chuck Martin said after Saturday’s game. “... we know we can get stops. We know we can get scores. We know we can do good on special teams.”

The RedHawk offense didn’t see much success on the ground on Saturday, totaling just 3.2 yards per rush. It hummed through the air, however, to the tune of 11.2 yards per completion. Junior starting quarterback Brett Gabbert had a strong day, recording 223 yards and two touchdowns to one interception. He completed 57% of his passes and ran in two touchdowns himself.

“As our o-line continues to play better and better and give Brett time, Brett continues to make huge plays for this football team,” Martin said.

Redshirt-senior Miles Marshall made an Odell Beckham-esque grab in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. 

“If you can’t make contested catches at this level, you’re not a player,” Martin said.

The Miami defense allowed just two touchdowns in the game, their only two allowed through three games of MAC play. The first touchdown came on a Western Michigan drive that started inside Miami’s own 30-yard line after Gabbert’s interception. 

The RedHawks held the Broncos to just 136 yards through the air but allowed 4.8 yards per carry. They made the Broncos one-dimensional and didn’t allow big plays.

The RedHawks earned a huge advantage on third down, converting on seven-of-14 third downs. Western Michigan converted just five times on 16 third down opportunities.

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“You don’t remember the seven-yard slant on third-and-six,” Martin said. “But those are the plays that get you to the plays that are the big plays that win games.”

Junior kicker Graham Nicholson remained perfect on the season. So far this year, he’s made 13-of-13 field goal attempts, and 23-of-23 points after touchdowns. He’s tied with the University of Alabama’s Will Reichard for the most field goals made without a miss in Division I this season.

“We don’t necessarily go against the analytics,” Martin said. “But the analytics don’t tell you that you have a kicker as good as Graham.”

Martin made an interesting point after the game about some of the downsides to such success in today’s college football landscape. With an April 2021 NCAA rule change, players who transfer between schools no longer have to sit out a year before playing with their new teams. In July 2021, the NCAA instituted a policy allowing players to profit off their names, images and likenesses. 

So it’s easier to transfer than ever. And big schools with notable brands and hordes of fans can entice potential players with lucrative endorsement deals — much more lucrative than what Miami can offer.

So if Miami has a great player who isn’t a senior, it’s likely he might transfer. He’ll certainly receive interest from big-name schools.

“There’s guys on my team right now getting called up by power fives, seeing if they want to transfer,” Martin said. “I promise you.”

But for now, the 6-1 RedHawks are focused on Toledo, the odds-on-favorite to win the MAC. The RedHawks and the Rockets clash at Yager Stadium this Saturday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. You can watch the game on ESPNU or listen for free at this link.