Dec 2, 2023; Detroit, MI, USA; Miami (OH) Redhawks quarterback Aveon Smith (2) runs up the sidelines against the Toledo Rockets in the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Miami (Ohio) knocks off Toledo for MAC title

Aveon Smith passed for 109 yards and rushed for 99, and Miami (Ohio) scored the final 10 points to rally past Toledo 23-14 in the Mid-American Conference Championship game Saturday in Detroit.

The RedHawks (11-2) avenged a 21-17 loss on Oct. 21 to the Rockets (11-2), who were seeking a second consecutive MAC title and a potential New Year’s Six bowl game bid.

Miami has not lost since, winning four regular-season games and Saturday’s conference championship, its first since 2019.

Smith replaced injured starting quarterback Brett Gabbert in the first game against Toledo. He was selected the Offensive Most Valuable Player after Saturday’s effort, with 6-of-16 passing and 21 rushes, including a 50-yarder.

Miami’s Graham Nicholson made three field goals, including a 40-yarder with 13:37 remaining in the fourth quarter for a 16-14 lead.

Rashad Amos ran for his second touchdown of the game, a 10-yarder with 2:41 remaining to complete a six-play, 72-yard drive and push the advantage to 23-14. Amos also had a 1-yard score in the opening quarter and totaled 74 yards on 15 carries.

Toledo trailed 10-0 after the first quarter, then outscored Miami 14-3 in the next two quarters before being shut out 10-0 in the final period.

Dequan Finn was 18 of 36 for 273 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Rockets. Kicker Luke Pawlak missed two field goals and one extra point.

–Field Level Media

Miami (Oh) RedHawks quarterback Brett Gabbert (5) holds the ball between plays during the NCAA football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Miami RedHawks at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

Brett Gabbert leads Miami (Ohio) past Cincinnati in OT

Brett Gabbert threw for three touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime, to lift Miami (Ohio) to a 31-24 victory over host Cincinnati on Saturday night.

Gabbert opened the extra period with a 17-yard rush before finding Joe Wilkins Jr. for an 8-yard score that ended up being the difference.

The Bearcats (2-1) had a first-and-goal at the RedHawks 2 on their ensuing possession, but an ineligible receiver downfield pushed them back to the 7. Cincinnati then worked its way to the 1, but on third down, it was flagged for another costly penalty, as a holding call sent the hosts back to the 11.

Quarterback Emory Jones got 9 of those yards back with a run up the middle, but his pass on fourth down was intercepted, giving the Bearcats their first loss of the season.

Gabbert completed 12 of 20 passes for 237 yards with an interception to go along with his three scores. He also added 132 rushing yards on nine carries.

Javon Tracy finished with three catches for 62 yards and a TD for Miami (2-1), which pulled off the win despite being outgained 538-415.

Jones had 265 yards with two interceptions on 18-of-34 passing while adding 101 yards and a score on the ground on 20 touches. Ryan Montgomery chipped in with 20 carries for 104 yards.

Cincinnati’s Xzavier Henderson led all receivers with 12 catches for 140 yards.

Kevin Davis’ 1-yard plunge into the end zone gave the RedHawks a 21-16 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Jones then capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with his rushing TD, from 17 yards out, before completing a pass to Chamon Metayer for the two-point conversion.

Miami’s Graham Nicholson forced overtime by making a 20-yard field goal with 5:10 remaining in regulation.

The RedHawks opened the game with a bang, as Gabbert connected with Gage Larvadain for a 79-yard scoring strike on the first offensive play of the contest.

Corey Kiner leveled the score with a 4-yard rushing TD with 11:47 left in the first quarter.

The Bearcats got a pair of first-half field goals from Carter Brown, but Gabbert’s 17-yard TD pass to Tracy is what allowed Miami to take a 14-13 lead into the break.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Payten Singletary (88) celebrates a touchdown during the first half aghast the Pittsburgh Panthers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA on September 9, 2023

Cincinnati seeking 17th straight win over Miami (Ohio)

The odds are long, which would make the rewards epic if visiting Miami (Ohio) can end its long losing streak against host Cincinnati on Saturday.

Even with 16 consecutive defeats to the Bearcats (2-0) since 2006, the RedHawks (1-1) can still tie the oldest FBS non-league rivalry (since 1888) at 60-60-7 with a win.

Miami’s last win in the Victory Bell series was in 2005 in Oxford, Ohio. Its last victory at Cincinnati was in 2002.

“It would be huge,” Miami linebacker Matt Salopek said of ending the streak. “Obviously, it’s the type of game that helps you as a team and as a player individually.

“Everyone wants to be (part of) a legacy here at Miami and if we’re able to do that, it’s a big momentum shift for us, for Miami football.”

Cincinnati not only has the upper hand among the schools, separated by 45 miles in southwest Ohio, but the Bearcats have been nearly unbeatable at home.

Cincinnati is tied with Clemson for the highest home winning percentage (26-1, 96.3 percent) since the start of 2019.

“We know we’re going to get (Miami’s) best shot,” Cincinnati coach Scott Satterfield said. “We know it’s a rivalry game. We know what’s at stake. They’re going to play as hard as they possibly can play. Whatever you’ve seen on film, go ahead and elevate that because that’s the way they’ll play.”

Cincinnati is led by former Arizona State (2022) and Florida (2018-21) quarterback Emory Jones. He has a completion percentage of 75.5 for 470 yards with seven touchdowns and an interception.

Cincinnati averages 46.5 points per game, while Miami averages just 22.0.

The RedHawks are coming off an exhausting 41-28 road win at UMass on Saturday, enduring 5 hours, 35 minutes of lightning-related delays. The game was scheduled to begin at 3:32 p.m. It ended at 12:28 a.m. Sunday.

That won’t matter come Saturday.

“Rain, snow, whatever it is, we’re always excited to go down to Nippert (Stadium) and have a chance to beat UC,” Salopek said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 1, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes linebacker Wesley Bissainthe (31) sacks Miami Redhawks quarterback Brett Gabbert (5) during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami (Fla.) manhandles Miami (Ohio) in opener

Tyler Van Dyke passed for 201 yards and a touchdown to lead the host Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes to a 38-3 win over the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

The Hurricanes’ defense held the RedHawks to 2-of-12 success on third downs and 0-for-3 on fourth downs. On offense, the Hurricanes rushed for 250 yards and passed for 243 yards.

Van Dyke completed 17 of 22 passes and was intercepted once.

The Hurricanes also got 90 yards and one touchdown on nine carries by running back Henry Parrish Jr.

RedHawks quarterback Brett Gabbert finished 12 of 21 for 127 yards, while receiver Gage Larvadain caught eight passes for 80 yards.

The Hurricanes led 10-0 after the first quarter and 16-3 at halftime.

The game’s first drive ended with Van Dyke’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Colbie Young, who took a bubble screen and went the distance.

The Hurricanes made it 10-0 on their second possession, ending a 15-play, 66-yard drive with Andres Borregales’ 34-yard field goal.

Borregales added a 32-yard field goal to make it 13-0 late in the second quarter.

The RedHawks finally got on the board on Graham Nicholson’s booming 48-yard field goal with 58 seconds left before halftime. The kick, which was 1 yard short of Nicholson’s career best, would have been good from 55.

But the Hurricanes, led by Parrish’s 37-yard run, made it 16-3 on Borregales’ 43-yard field goal off the left post on the final play of the first half.

On their first chance of the third quarter, the Hurricanes extended their advantage to 24-3. True freshman Mark Fletcher Jr., who got a great kick-out block from pulling guard Anez Cooper, scored on a 26-yard run. The Hurricanes added a two-point conversion on Van Dyke’s slant-pattern pass to Xavier Restrepo.

The Hurricanes made it 31-3 on Parrish’s 12-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. Parrish faked out defensive back Yahsyn McKee with a stop-and-go move before diving for the right pylon.

With 4:30 left, Donald Chaney Jr. scored on a 20-yard run to make it 38-3. Six defenders got a hand on Chaney, who bulled over one would-be tackler near the goal line.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) celebrates after scoring his fourth touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Cardinal Stadium. Kentucky won 52-21. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Kentucky shorthanded in opener against Miami of Ohio

No. 20 Kentucky will be without All-SEC running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. when it hosts Miami of Ohio on Saturday night in Lexington, Ky., after he was among several players suspended for at least the season opener by coach Mark Stoops.

Stoops refused Monday to divulge the length of the suspensions.

“I will be extremely loyal to Chris forever because nobody’s perfect and people make mistakes here and there,” Stoops said. “I think everybody’s human, but we all appreciate what Chris has done for this university.”

Those suspended include senior outside linebacker Jordan Wright. In nine games last season, Wright had 30 tackles, six pass breakups and four tackles for loss.

Stoops said he suspects “one will be back next week” when the Wildcats open SEC play at Florida.

Rodriguez was arrested on charges of DUI and careless driving in May and has another unresolved incident that hasn’t been public, according to reports.

Rodriguez ran for 1,379 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He is 1,134 rushing yards away from breaking Benny Snell’s school record for career rushing yards, but a multi-game suspension could hinder his chances of setting the mark.

Senior Kavosiey Smoke, who has rushed for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career, likely will replace Rodriguez. Ramon Jefferson, who transferred from Sam Houston after running for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, also is an option.

“We have great depth at that position,” Stoops said. ” … We have others, and guys will step up and they’ll compete and we’ll play and we won’t miss a beat.”

J.J. Weaver, who had 34 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions last year, is listed atop the depth chart at outside linebacker.

With Rodriguez’s absence, quarterback Will Levis will be counted on even more heavily to get the Wildcats off to a good start.

Levis completed 66 percent of his passes last season for 2,827 yards and 24 touchdowns, with 13 interceptions. He also ran for 376 yards and nine scores on 107 carries.

Expectations are high for Kentucky, which is ranked in the preseason for just the fifth time in school history and for the first time since starting at No. 15 in 1978. Kentucky finished 10-3 and in second place last season in the SEC East Division, behind national champion Georgia.

“First games are always unique because you have a pretty good idea of what you have but you don’t know until you go play a football game,” Stoops said. “I have confidence in this team, I have confidence in the leadership, I have confidence in the preparation that we’ve done to this point. Now it’s time to go put it on the field.”

Kentucky could be tested by what is expected to be a potent Miami of Ohio offense. The RedHawks were picked to finish second in the MAC’s East Division, just behind Kent State.

Quarterback Brett Gabbert completed 59.5 percent of his passes last season for 2,648 yards and 26 touchdowns, with six interceptions.

Miami returns four starters along the offensive line, as well as four running backs — Tyre Shelton, Keyon Mozee, Kevin Davis and Kenny Tracy — who combined to run for 1,448 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.

“The opportunity to play on Saturday night against an SEC team on the road is quite an opportunity and is thrilling for everyone involved,” RedHawks coach Chuck Martin said. “They are a really good team, probably the best Kentucky team ever.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) runs the ball in for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota moves on without Mohamed Ibrahim vs. Miami (Ohio)

Minnesota expected reigning Big Ten running back of the year Mohamed Ibrahim to shoulder much of the offensive load this season.

Instead, a season-ending leg injury suffered in the season opener Sept. 2 stalled Ibrahim’s total contributions at 30 carries, 163 yards and two touchdowns.

The Golden Gophers (0-1) now will turn their attention to picking up the slack and salvaging what the program hoped would be a bounce-back season as Minnesota hosts Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

“It’s a great challenge to our other backs, a great challenge to everybody else on the team, and everybody else is going to have to be able to play a little bit harder, a little bit better,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “But that’s what a team is.”

Redshirt junior Bryce Williams contributed a 2-yard scoring run to the Golden Gophers’ 45-31 loss to Ohio State to begin the season, but make no mistake, he and the rest of the depth chart are lacking in the experience department compared to Ibrahim, a redshirt senior who averaged 153.7 rushing yards per game a season ago.

Other candidates for increased carries include Trey Potts and Cam Wiley, who have 421 career rushing yards combined.

The Redhawks (0-1) are coming off Saturday’s season-opening, 49-14 loss at Cincinnati. They surrendered touchdowns on the Bearcats’ first three possessions and trailed 35-0 at halftime.

A trio of freshmen sparked the Redhawks, as Keyon Mozee carried 15 times for 80 yards and classmates Kenny Tracy and John Saunders Jr. each scored the first touchdowns of their careers in the fourth quarter. Saunders returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown.

The Redhawks passed for 109 yards and rushed for 169 while amassing 13 penalties for 100 yards.

“We’re going to have to be way more efficient in the pass game, and we’re going to have to move the football,” Redhawks coach Chuck Martin said. “We’re going to have to not leave our defense on the field near as much as we did a week ago.”

Minnesota leads the all-time series against Miami (Ohio) 4-0. The Golden Gophers defeated the Redhawks 26-3 on Sept. 15, 2018, in the programs’ most recent meeting.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) tosses the ball against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Ridder leads No. 8 Cincinnati over Miami (Ohio)

Cincinnati has been trying to tie the series with Miami (Ohio) for nearly 70 years.

It took quarterback Desmond Ridder only 45 seconds to show it would finally happen as the No. 8 Bearcats scored on the second play of Saturday’s season-opening 49-14 win over the visiting RedHawks, their 15th straight victory vs. their in-state rival.

The oldest non-conference rivalry in FBS, which began in 1888, is even at 59-59-7. Miami has been tied for or held the lead since 1916 with the last tie in the series in 1953.

Cincinnati moved to 43-44-5 at home to the RedHawks.

Ridder connected on an 81-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Scott to make it 7-0 and he completed nine of his first 10 throws for 158 yards as the Bearcats led 21-0 after the first quarter.

While also adding a 25-yard TD run for the 35-0 halftime score, Ridder finished 20 for 25 for 295 yards and four TDs with an interception on Cincinnati’s first drive of the second half.

Ridder’s final TD was an 8-yard pass to Leonard Taylor early in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford had a game-high 121 rushing yards on 12 carries, including a 21-yard run for a 28-0 lead in the second quarter before a sellout crowd of 37, 978 at Nippert Stadium.

Kenny Tracy scored on a 19-yard run for Miami with 3:20 left to play to make it 42-7 and John Saunders had a 32-yard pick six of backup quarterback Evan Prater for a 42-14 score.

Prater had a 14-yard TD run with 23 seconds left.

RedHawks quarterback AJ Mayer was 9 for 28 for 109 yards.

The schools did not play in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ending a streak of annual meetings since 1945.

Miami’s last win in The Battle for the Victory Bell was 44-26 in Oxford, Ohio, on Sept. 28, 2005.

— Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) resets between plays during practice at the Higher Ground training facility in West Harrison, Ind., on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021.

Cincinnati Bearcats Football Camp

No. 8 Cincinnati aims for 15th straight win over Miami (OH)

Cincinnati’s winning streak against Miami (Ohio) has put the Bearcats in position for a milestone in the longest-running football rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The No. 8 Bearcats have a chance for a 15th straight victory in the series when they meet in Cincinnati on Saturday, and doing so would pull them even with the RedHawks for the first time in nearly 70 years.

As important as that is, especially to the fan bases, the Bearcats want to build on last season’s 9-1 record that included a wrenching 24-21 loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Cincinnati was up 21-10 in the fourth quarter but was beaten on a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left and finished eighth in the final poll.

The loss gnawed at the Bearcats throughout the preseason camp, quarterback Desmond Ridder noted.

“We had a bad taste in our month,” he said.

Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference is trying to crack the Power 5 and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“We ended the season as a Top 10 team, but to me, the goal is how do we become a Top 10 program?” coach Luke Fickell said.

The Bearcats will likely need to go undefeated to be considered for the playoffs, meaning they would need road victories against No. 17 Indiana and No. 9 Notre Dame.

“We have a chance to take it to the next level,” Fickell said.

A chance is all the RedHawks want after last season’s COVID-19 shortened season limited them to a 2-1 record following a Mid-American Conference championship in 2019.

“I’m just excited to play football,” safety Mike Brown said during preseason practices. “I’m excited to be out there in the heat and getting yelled at by the coaches. Our main goal is to win the MAC championship, but after last year, we just want to take it week by week.”

Miami returns nine starters on offense and 10 on defense. Not only that, but with players granted a bonus season of eligibility because of the pandemic, the RedHawks roster is filled with fifth- and sixth-year players.

“It’s just awesome,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “You spend all the time with these kids, and you just grow relationships with them. … I just like being around those guys.”

Miami and Cincinnati, separated by about 40 miles in southwest Ohio, did not play in the Battle for the Victory Bell in 2020, breaking the streak of annual matchups dating to 1945.

Cincinnati’s 35-13 home win vs. the RedHawks on Sept. 14, 2019, reduced Miami’s advantage to 59-58-7 in a series that began Dec. 8, 1888, with a 0-0 tie.

The RedHawks’ last win was 44-26 in Oxford, Ohio, on Sept. 28, 2005.

Miami has been tied for or held the series lead since 1916 when the series stood at 10-10-3. The series was last tied in 1953.

The schools played every year from 1909 until World War II caused a two-year absence (1943, ’44).

If the Bearcats win Saturday, they will also close the gap on Miami’s winning record in Cincinnati that stands at 44-42-5.

–Field Level Media