Dec 16, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA;  Appalachian State Mountaineers wide receiver Christan Horn (13) receives a pass guarded byAppalachian State Mountaineers cornerback Tyrek Funderburk (2) in the second quarter during the Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Appalachian St. grinds out rainy 13-9 win over Miami (Ohio)

Appalachian State relied mostly on defense to defeat Miami (Ohio) 13-9 in a rainy mess in the Cure Bowl on Saturday at Orlando, Fla.

Joey Aguilar ran for Appalachian State’s only touchdown and threw for 211 yards with an interception as the Mountaineers improved to 7-1 all-time in bowls.

Miami (11-3) moved into Appalachian State territory on its final possession, but Ronald Clarke recovered a fumble with 2:34 left to halt that threat. The RedHawks were held to 227 yards of total offense.

Anderson Castle rushed for 119 yards on 20 carries for the Mountaineers (9-5), who had a five-game winning streak to close the regular season before losing in the Sun Belt Conference title game.

Miami, the Mid-American Conference champion, had a five-game winning streak snapped. Appalachian State is 4-0 in bowl games against MAC opponents. This was the first meeting between the teams.

Both teams had trouble holding onto the ball as conditions played a huge role.

Miami running back Rashad Amos rushed for 180 yards on 33 carries. The Redhawks had only 44 passing yards.

Appalachian State finally got into the end zone with Aguilar’s 9-yard run with 4:46 left in the third quarter.

But after forcing a Miami punt, the Mountaineers gave it back on a fumble. On the next play, Amos ran 23 yards for a touchdown, pulling the RedHawks within 13-9.

With about eight minutes left, Miami punted from the Appalachian State 45 but got only one more possession.

Despite a 202-109 advantage in total offense, Appalachian State’s halftime lead was just 6-3. Aguilar had 147 yards on 13-for-25 passing in the half.

It was all about field goals early on. Miami’s Graham Nicholson, the Lou Groza Award winner as the nation’s top kicker, opened the scoring with a 34-yarder. Michael Hughes of Appalachian State was good from 29 and 22 yards, completing drives that covered 71 and 88 yards.

The next time in Miami territory, the Mountaineers were foiled on a four-down play from the RedHawks’ 17-yard line on a possession that began at midfield following a Miami fumble. Then in the final minute of the half, Appalachian State was stopped on downs at the Miami 19.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers quarterback Joey Aguilar (4) warms up before game against the Wyoming Cowboys at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Joey Aguilar, Appalachian St. out to end Miami’s fairy tale season in Cure Bowl

The third- and fourth-string quarterbacks for Miami (Ohio) have a chance to put their names next to the greatest signal-caller in school history.

The RedHawks are looking for their 12th win — second only to Ben Roethlisberger’s 13-1 2003 squad — when they meet Appalachian State for the first time Saturday afternoon in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Miami (11-2) has won five straight games since starting quarterback Brett Gabbert’s season-ending leg injury on Oct. 21. Backup Aveon Smith went 5-0, including a 23-14 victory over Toledo in the Mid-American Conference title game on Dec. 2, but entered the transfer portal on Dec. 4.

RedHawks coach Chuck Martin said little-used Henry Hesson will start under center against the Mountaineers (8-5), with Maddox Kopp also seeing some playing time in the bowl game.

Hesson attempted five passes last season and none this year. Kopp completed 15 of 28 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in two games at Colorado last season before transferring to the RedHawks.

“We’ve had a lot of bumps in the road along the way, all the way back to the beginning of the season,” said Martin, whose team opened the year with a 38-3 loss at Miami (Florida) on Sept. 1. “Every time it seems like it wasn’t going to go our way, somebody would make a play and we survived, and we’ve been doing that for 13 weeks.”

The RedHawks’ 11 wins equal the 1973 and 1975 squads for the second most behind the 2003 team led by “Big Ben,” who went on to win two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“We’re trying to get in some select company,” Martin said.

Appalachian State had a five-game winning streak snapped with its 49-23 loss to Troy in the Sun Belt title game on Dec. 2. The Mountaineers handed 10-0 James Madison its first loss of the season and nearly upended then-No. 17 North Carolina on Sept. 9, falling 40-34 in two overtimes.

Coach Shawn Clark’s Mountaineers are also dealing with a notable transfer portal departure in running back Nate Noel, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards over the past four seasons in Boone, N.C.

Quarterback Joey Aguilar started the season as a backup. But his first pass off the bench on Sept. 2 went for a go-ahead TD as part of a four-TD performance and he never relinquished the job. Aguilar passed for a school-record 3,546 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions and also rushed for 231 yards and two scores this season. Only Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels of LSU and Heisman finalist Bo Nix of Oregon have thrown more TD passes (both with 40).

Before the Dec. 2 loss to Troy, the Mountaineers’ first four losses this season were all by seven or fewer points. Clark credits a defensive scheme switch at midseason for the second-half surge.

“We are excited to play in the Cure Bowl against Miami (Ohio),” Clark said. “Our team kept digging all season. We have battled through adversity, and we won the Sun Belt East division. We will be proud to travel to Orlando and to represent our university and one of the best conferences in America.”

Appalachian State won its first six bowl games before losing 59-38 to Western Kentucky in the 2021 Boca Raton Bowl. The Mountaineers did not play in a bowl last season.

Miami (Ohio) is 3-4 in bowl games during the 21st century, including a 24-20 loss to UAB in the Bahamas Bowl last season.

–Field Level Media

Toledo running back Peny Boone, second in the nation in yards per carry, powers the Rockets into the MAC title game. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Streaking Toledo optimistic MAC title means much more

Mid-American Conference
Toledo vs. Miami (Ohio)
Saturday, Noon ET
Ford Field
Detroit, Michigan

Toledo hunts consecutive MAC titles and much more Saturday, where the Rockets’ 11-game win streak and coveted bowl game bids are on the line against 10-win Miami.

Beating the RedHawks for a second time in 42 days stands in the way of the Rockets reaching their stated season goals.

The Rockets (11-1) are unbeaten since dropping a 30-28 heartbreaker at Illinois – Toledo surrendered a 19-7 third-quarter lead — to start the 2023 season. They’re propelled by the No. 1 scoring offense in the MAC (35.3 points per game) and had 10 players on the All-MAC first team.

Toledo running back Peny Boone has 1,359 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, including eight 100-yard games this season.

The College Football Playoff committee listed Toledo as one of the teams in the running for a New Year’s Six bowl game entering the weekend. Hitting the bowl game jackpot would likely require other Group of 5 teams – No. 22 Tulane and No. 24 Liberty – to bust in their conference championship settings.

“We’ve done a lot of things here that no other team in the history of the school has done and we want to continue to add to that legacy,” Tulane coach Jason Candle said.

The RedHawks (10-2) led the conference in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and feature linebacker Matt Salopek, the conference defensive player of the year.

Miami fell behind Toledo 21-3 at halftime in the first meeting between the teams this season.

The RedHawks lost fifth-year quarterback Brett Gabbert to a season-ending leg injury in the fourth quarter.

Miami shut out Toledo in the second half, forcing punts on five of eight drives, and narrowly lost the Oct. 21 matchup, 21-17.

A 10-win team for the first time since 2010, the RedHawks survived a rough road to reach Detroit. They are one of only two teams in the FBS (James Madison) with six road wins in the regular season. Injuries, and overcoming them, was a theme Miami coach Chuck Martin has embraced.

“You look back and say you beat a Power 5 second year in a row, beat Cincinnati, get the Victory Bell, you lose Brett … wasn’t easy,” Martin said. “Now you’ve got a chance to go play for a MAC championship. Not a lot to complain about.”

Miami lost to Toledo in the only meeting between the teams in the MAC championship game in 2004.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride (22) celebrates after running for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

UAB, Miami (Ohio) chase 7th win of season at Bahamas Bowl

In the Bahamas Bowl, the winner will finish with a winning season. The other will go home with some extra sunshine and a losing record.

Miami (Ohio) will meet UAB in a battle of 6-6 teams in the first bowl game of the 2022 slate on Friday at 11:30 a.m. EST at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau.

While the teams enter with matching records, that’s where the similarities stop.

Miami is led by coach Chuck Martin in his ninth year, while UAB is in transition. This will be the final game that interim coach Bryant Vincent leads the Blazers before former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer takes the reins.

Dilfer said last week that he will be in the Bahamas for the game and will work with Vincent and his staff on whatever they need him to do.

“I plan on serving coach Vincent and this staff any way I can. I mean that. He is the head coach,” Dilfer told the Tribune newspaper of Nassau. “I’m here to support him in the transition, to serve these young men, to serve this staff. I’m not joking — if they send me on coffee runs, I’ll go on coffee runs. … I want to help them finish strong. I also hope to earn their trust as we go through this together, because great things are coming.”

This game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Blazers and RedHawks.

UAB ended the regular season – its final run in Conference USA before transitioning to the American next year – with a 37-27 road victory over Louisiana Tech. The Blazers were powered by a rushing attack that racked up 414 yards and three touchdowns. DeWayne McBride led the way with 272 yards on 16 carries for a 17-yards-per-try average.

A junior, McBride was tapped as the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year this season. He leads all of FBS in rushing yards (1,713) and touchdowns (19). UAB has the nation’s fifth-best rushing offense, averaging 243.1 yards per game.

Miami’s defense is anchored by Ryan McWood and Matthew Salopek, each of whom has more than 100 total tackles this season. Brian Ugwu leads the team in tackles for loss with 9 1/2.

“I like going to bowl games where it’s warm,” Martin said. “For a lot of these kids and a lot of these families, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

This is the first time since the 2003 and 2004 seasons that the RedHawks have gone to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons. They are 6-5 all-time in bowl matchups.

UAB is 2-3 all-time in bowl games and has been bowl-eligible in six straight seasons but didn’t play in one in 2020 because of a pandemic-related cancellation. UAB played in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, losing 41-6 to Ohio.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats defensive back Jeremiah Lewis (9) tackles Miami (Ohio) Redhawks running back Kevin Davis (8) during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Miami (Ohio) stuns Northwestern on late FG

Graham Nicholson kicked a 36-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to give visiting Miami (Ohio) a 17-14 upset win against Northwestern on Saturday night in Evanston, Ill.

Keyon Mozee rushed for 171 yards on 21 carries to lead the RedHawks (2-2), who overcame a 14-7 deficit midway through the fourth quarter.

Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski completed 24 of 42 passes for 232 yards. He also rushed for a touchdown.

Cam Porter scored on a 2-yard run off a direct snap with 8:34 left to give Northwestern a 14-7 lead, but Miami quickly answered.

Mozee’s 66-yard run to the Wildcats’ 1-yard line on the next drive set up a short touchdown run by quarterback Aveon Smith to tie the score 14-14 with 7:23 left.

The RedHawks got the ball back on their final drive with 6:24 remaining and marched into Northwestern territory for the winning field goal.

Northwestern (1-3) struggled to move the ball from the start.

Hilinski kept the first scoring drive alive when he completed a 3-yard pass to Malik Washington on fourth-and-1 from the Miami 34-yard line.

Miami (2-2) stopped Evan Hull on third-and-goal from the 1, but the RedHawks were penalized for offsides and Hilinski scored on a quarterback sneak on the next play to give Northwestern a 7-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter.

Miami punted on its first four possessions, and Nicholson missed a 38-yard field goal on the fourth drive after the RedHawks recovered a fumble on their own 24-yard line.

The special teams for Miami came through later in the first half, however.

Caiden Woullard blocked a punt by Luke Akers and he recovered the ball at the Northwestern 8-yard line.

Two plays later, Smith tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Mac Hippenhammer to tie the score 7-7 with 27 seconds left in the first half.

Miami had a chance to take its first lead, but Northwestern blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Nicholson with 2:03 left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Miami (Oh) Redhawks running back Tyre Shelton (9) runs the ball against Kentucky Wildcats defensive lineman Tre'vonn Rybka (90) during the first quarter at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Kentucky slams Miami of Ohio in season opener

Will Levis threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns and Barion Brown added a 100-yard kickoff return for a score to lift Kentucky to a 37-13 victory over visiting Miami of Ohio on Saturday in Lexington, Ky.

Levis, who was 21-for-32 passing, found Tayvion Robinson six times for 136 yards, while Dane Key added four receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown and Brown contributed three catches for 45 yards to complement his highlight on special teams.

After his team led 13-10 at the half, Brown caught the second-half kickoff on the goal line and ran upfield before cutting to his left. He raced down the sideline untouched for a 20-10 lead just 13 seconds into the third quarter.

Kentucky (1-0) started to break the game open two plays later, when Keidron Smith recovered Jaylon Bester’s fumble and returned it to the RedHawks’ 8-yard line. Two plays later, Levis found Chauncey Magwood in the end zone for a 27-10 lead.

Miami (0-1) cut the lead to 27-13 on Graham Nicholson’s 27-yard field goal with 9:04 left in the third quarter.

Matt Ruffolo got the three points back for the Wildcats when he connected on a 50-yard field goal with 1:09 left in the third quarter.

Levis threw his third touchdown of the game when he hit Key over the middle from a yard away for a 37-13 lead with 7:46 left.

The Wildcats were without All-SEC running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. and senior outside linebacker Jordan Wright, who were suspended for at least the season opener by coach Mark Stoops for off-the-field violations committed during the offseason.

Kavosiey Smoke tried to fill the void left by Rodriguez, but he was held to 32 yards on seven carries. The Wildcats struggled running the ball, mustering just 50 yards on 26 carries.

After Tyre Shelton gave the RedHawks a 7-0 lead on a 22-yard run with 9:39 left in the first quarter, Kentucky needed just a little more than two minutes to pull even. Levis’ 6-yard touchdown pass to Brenden Bates capped a five-play, 79-yard drive.

Brett Gabbert went 20 for 28 for 166 yards for Miami, while Shelton finished with 50 yards and a score on seven carries.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Browns, Chargers LB Bob Babich dead at 74

NFL first-round draft pick and former San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns linebacker Bob Babich died. He was 74.

The National Football Foundation announced Wednesday that Babich passed away on April 3 in the Clairemont community of San Diego. The cause of death was not revealed.

“An exceptional hard hitting linebacker, Bob Babich made his mark in Oxford as one of the best in the country,” NFF chairman Archie Manning said. “He was great guy to be around with a great sense of humor and full of great stories. We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Babich, a bruising 6-foot-2, 231-pound linebacker, played nine NFL seasons after a standout college career at Miami (Ohio), where he played under head coach Bo Schembechler. He was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1968.

In 1994, he became the only Bobcats player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Youngstown, Ohio, native was selected in the first round (No. 18 overall) in the 1969 NFL Draft by San Diego, where he broke into the lineup in 1970 — when he started every game.

That began a stretch when Babich missed only three games, all in 1975, over his nine NFL seasons. For his career, he started 86 of his 125 games with the Chargers (1969-72) and Browns (1973-78).

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Miami (Ohio) RedHawks quarterback Brett Gabbert (5) throws a pass against the Army Black Knights during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

UNT brings 5-game win streak into bowl matchup with Miami (Ohio)

North Texas carries a five-game winning streak and a near-homefield advantage with it against Miami (Ohio) in the inaugural Frisco Football Classic on Thursday in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas.

The bowl game is a new one, created after the regular season to help accommodate a game for every eligible team. Both the Mean Green and the RedHawks finished their regular campaigns with 6-6 records, with North Texas dominating previously unbeaten No. 15 UTSA at home on Nov. 27 to become bowl-eligible.

North Texas and Miami will be meeting for the first time. The Mean Green rely on a punishing rushing attack and defense while the RedHawks have been at their best via the pass.

The Mean Green’s defense has been the difference in the winning streak, holding opponents to an average of just 17 points per game. In the first seven games of the year, in which North Texas went 1-6 and lost six straight, the defense gave up an average of 35 points per game.

After the slow start, North Texas beat Rice, Southern Miss, UTEP, Florida International and UTSA in consecutive weeks.

“It’s been great work,” North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. “The kids understand that we have a great opportunity to play in Frisco against a good opponent in Miami (Ohio) and try to win a bowl game. That is something no one in this group has done, hoist a championship trophy over their heads and finish it off the right way.”

North Texas garnered a bowl-game invitation for the fifth time in six seasons under Littrell. This will be the Mean Green’s 13th bowl appearance all-time. North Texas will be looking for its fourth win in a bowl and first since 2013.

Miami went 5-3 in Mid-American Conference play and was a failed two-point conversion shy in a 48-47 loss at Kent State from earning a spot in the league championship game.

“Every time these kids have had a challenge, they’ve never backed down,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “Even more importantly with this group is that it’s continued to build and get better every time they’ve gotten knocked down. They’ve never flinched, whether it be a game or whether it be a loss — I like the resiliency of these kids.”

The RedHawks are playing in the postseason for the 13th time in program history. Miami has been bowl-eligible four of the past six seasons; from 2006-15, it finished the regular season at least .500 only once.

Miami’s offense has found its stride, especially through the air, in the past four games. Quarterback Brett Gabbert spearheaded an offensive attack that racked up an average of 500 yards and 39.8 points per game in the month of November when he passed for 1,475 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Over that stretch, the RedHawks went 2-2, with the two defeats (both on the road) coming by a combined three points.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Dylan Wright (16) scores in the second quarter, congratulated by teammates wide receiver Brady Boyd (14), wide receiver Daniel Jackson (9) and Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Bryce Williams (21) at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Potts rushes Minnesota past Miami (Ohio)

Trey Potts rushed for a career-high 178 yards and two touchdowns and Tanner Morgan passed for two scores as host Minnesota posted a 31-26 win over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday in Minneapolis.

The Redhawks outgained the Golden Gophers 128-15 in the third quarter and struck for 17 straight points to begin the second half. The spurt, however, wasn’t enough to erase the 21-3 edge Minnesota built at intermission.

After a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brett Gabbert to Jack Sorenson brought Miami (Ohio) to within 21-20 with 12:32 to play, the Golden Gophers responded with Potts’ 21-yard scoring run with 9:53 left. Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin intercepted Gabbert on the next Redhawks’ possession, which ended with Matthew Trickett’s 50-yard field goal.

Still, the Redhawks (0-2, 0-0 Mid-American) weren’t done, as Gabbert found Mac Hippenhammer for a 33-yard touchdown with 3:43 left. The two-point conversion attempt failed, accounting for the final margin.

Minnesota (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) began life without reigning Big Ten Running Back of the Year Mo Ibrahim, who sustained a season-ending lower left leg injury against Ohio State in the opener.

Potts, one of the Golden Gophers expected to fill the void, shined before the home crowd. He opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:29 to go in the first quarter, capitalizing on a fumble by the Redhawks on the game’s opening possession.

Miami (Ohio) managed a mere 20 yards of offense in the second quarter, prompting Redhawks coach Chuck Martin to replace quarterback Gabbert with AJ Mayer to open the third quarter.

Following a Golden Gophers three-and-out to begin the second half, Mayer capped an eight-play, 59-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, drawing Miami (Ohio) within 21-10. Gabbert saw a majority of the snaps down the stretch, finishing 14-for-28 passing for 201 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to go with a team-high 27 yards on the ground.

Graham Nicholson drilled field goals of 45 and 46 yards for the Redhawks. Sorenson had six catches for 97 yards.

Morgan connected with Dylan Wright (25 yards) and Daniel Jackson (six yards) in the second quarter. Wright had three receptions for a career-high 73 yards.

Golden Gophers senior receiver Chris Autman-Bell dressed for the game and completed warm-ups but was held out for the second straight week with a lower-leg injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley (left) greets West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown after the game at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia-No. 11 Oklahoma canceled; MAC game nixed

West Virginia has paused all football activities — forcing the cancellation of Saturday’s game against No. 11 Oklahoma — for the next seven days due to a surge in positive tests for COVID-19 and contact tracing, the school announced Thursday.

“Our intent is to get this spread under control as soon as possible for the health and safety of all involved,” West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “We are beyond disappointed not to play our final home game of the season and honor our seniors, but we need to act now and reevaluate our situation after Dec. 17.”

The Mountaineers (5-4, 4-4 Big 12) were scheduled to host the Sooners (7-2, 6-2) on Saturday. Oklahoma is slated to play Iowa State on Dec. 19 in the Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas.

Also Thursday, the Mid-American Conference announced the cancellation of Saturday’s game between Miami (Ohio) and Bowling Green due to COVID-19 issues and contact tracing within the Miami program. The game has been declared a no contest, per the MAC.

Also postponed or canceled from Saturday’s schedule: Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State, Purdue at No. 12 Indiana, No. 8 Cincinnati at No. 24 Tulsa, and Ole Miss at No. 5 Texas A&M.

–Field Level Media