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Preview: Miami looks to move closer to clinching against Akron on Wednesday night

<p>Miami football has not lost a home game this season.</p>

Miami football has not lost a home game this season.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m., Miami University football will play the University of Akron in a crucial Mid-American Conference (MAC) game at Yager Stadium. 

If the RedHawks (7-2, 4-1 MAC) can beat the low-ranked Zips (2-7, 1-4 MAC), Miami will have an opportunity to clinch the MAC East division and a spot in the MAC Championship game with a win next week against Buffalo. Miami is favored by 17.5 points against Akron at home. 

That’s the most Miami’s been favored by against an FBS opponent this season. The Zips have had an interesting season. 

Four of Akron’s seven losses have been by one score or less, including a two-point, quadruple overtime loss to the University of Indiana Week 4 and three-point losses to Temple University and the University at Buffalo. They’ve also gotten smoked twice since the MAC slate started, 55-14 against Northern Illinois University Week 6 and 41-14 against Bowling Green State University Week 8.

Against Northern Illinois, Akron gave up 390 yards rushing. Against Bowling Green, the Zips gave up nearly 240 yards rushing. So far this season in conference games, Akron has allowed more rush yards per game (188) and more rushing touchdowns (12) than any other team in the MAC.

That bodes well for the RedHawks, who will be relying extra on their rush offense with starting quarterback Brett Gabbert out for the season. Last week, with backup Aveon Smith under center, Miami rode a strong rushing attack, which included 163 yards and a touchdown from bruising back Rashad Amos, leading to an upset win over the Ohio University Bobcats.

Akron is dealing with quarterback issues of its own. The team’s starting signal-caller DJ Irons, who was Third-Team All-MAC last season, tore his ACL in Week 5 against Buffalo. Akron has been rotating Jeff Undercuffler Jr. and Tahj Bullock under center ever since, and both have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.

“Since they’ve lost their quarterback, they’ve struggled more on offense,” Martin said with a wistful smile at a press conference last week. “It’s hard when you lose your starting quarterback.”

This season in conference games, Miami’s rush defense has been the best in the MAC (94.8 yards per game), and Akron’s rush offense has been the worst in the MAC (86.8 yards per game). It’s unlikely the Zips will have success rushing the ball on Wednesday. If one of their backup quarterbacks can’t move the ball through the air, it could be a field day for the RedHawk defense. 

Miami is coming into Wednesday’s game on 10 full days of rest compared to just six for Akron. Martin doesn’t love the fact that his players have had extra days to fall back on their heels, to hear from family and friends how great they’ve been playing and to maybe even start to believe it.

“To get some guys healed up and rested up, the break is wonderful going into Week 10,” Martin said. “From where we are as a team, you’d like to just keep rolling. We’re in such a good groove.”

The RedHawks and the Zips square off on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. You can catch the game on ESPNU, or you can listen for free at this link.

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