The Miami University RedHawks football team has moved into the driver's seat for a chance at its first Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship since 2019 and its second MAC East Division win in head coach Chuck Martin’s tenure. After a 19-0 win over the University of Akron on Wednesday night, Miami needs to win just one of its remaining two games to secure a spot in the big game.
As the regular season starts to wind to a close, the RedHawks will look to improve their bowl selection options and stay in the lead for a division crown. They face a relatively soft end to their regular season slate, with both of their remaining opponents currently holding losing records.
That leaves the question, which bowl will the RedHawks play in?
There isn’t a clear tier system of bowls in the MAC as other conferences have, which means that it takes a little more guesswork to figure out which potential bowl games the RedHawks might get placed in.
The bowl matchups are based on the best possible games and geography. There is some deduction we can do, however, to give us a few options. To start, the top-ranked MAC champion will be in the mix for the Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl or Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl if it's the highest-ranked Group of Five champ and not in the College Football Playoff (spoiler, it won’t be).
However, it’s not likely the RedHawks will snag one of those big-name bowl assignments.
The 2016 PJ Fleck-led Western Michigan University Broncos are the only MAC team to have made one of those bowl games in the College Football Playoff era. The two RedHawk losses mean they will likely not end up receiving a ranking, as good as this team is. There are multiple Group of Five teams currently ahead of the best teams in the MAC, including No. 21 James Madison University, No. 23 Tulane University, and No. 24 Liberty University.
Here are some bowl games Miami football could find itself in come December:
Scooter's Coffee Frisco Bowl —Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m., Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Tex.):
The RedHawks have yet to appear in this game. The Frisco Bowl typically pits a team from a Group of Five conference against a team from the American Athletic Conference, with the game taking place at the home of FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas.
Despite being played in the same stadium and having a very similar name, this is a different bowl than the 2021 Frisco Football Classic that the NCAA held between Miami and North Texas, a game the Redhawks won 27-14. That game was a one-off bowl played as a means to get every single bowl-eligible team the ability to play in a bowl game.
In last year’s Frisco Bowl, Boise State University beat the University of North Texas 35-32.
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68 Ventures Bowl — Saturday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m., Hancock Whitney Stadium (Mobile, Ala.):
The RedHawks appeared in this bowl three times back when it was known as the GoDaddy.com Bowl, the LendingTree Bowl and the GMAC Bowl.
Their most notable appearance was Ben Roethlisberger’s final game in 2003, in the GMAC Bowl, before he was ultimately drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Miami won that game against the Louisville Cardinals 49-28, ending that season 13-1.
This game traditionally features a team from the MAC playing a team from the Sun Belt Conference, with the game being played at the home of the University of South Alabama Jaguars in Mobile, Alabama. Last year, The University of Southern Mississippi beat Rice University 38-24 in this bowl game.
Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl — Friday, Dec. 29 at 4:30 p.m., Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Ariz.):
The RedHawks have yet to play in this bowl game. This game traditionally involves a team from the MAC competing against a team from the Mountain West Conference, with the game being conducted at the home of the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Arizona.
The game is prominently featured on and exclusively streamed by the media company Barstool Sports, which also sponsors it.
If Miami makes this bowl game, the team will hope to follow in the footsteps of Ohio University, which beat the University of Wyoming 30-27 last year.
Quick Lane Bowl — Tuesday, Dec. 26 at 2:00 p.m., Ford Field (Detroit):
The RedHawks have not yet played in this bowl game. This game traditionally features a team from the MAC going head-to-head with a team from the Big Ten Conference at the home stadium of the Detroit Lions.
A MAC team has played in this game for the past three years. In the most recent game, the New Mexico State University Aggies beat the MAC’s own Bowling Green State University Falcons 24-19.
It seems clear that the least preferable of these matchups is the Quick Lane Bowl, as great as it would be to see a Big Ten team play the mighty RedHawks. After being on campus for a semester of cold, the last thing the RedHawks need is more exposure to the winter, even if it’s in an indoor stadium.
A trip out to Tucson, Arizona sounds like a blast, especially with the amount of additional exposure that would come to the university through Barstool Sports, even if the bowl payout of $350,000 is significantly less than the $2 million that the athletic department would get from winning the Quick Lane Bowl.