Miami-Ohio (2-1) at Missouri (3-0)
The Sports Network
FACTS & STATS: Site: Faurot Field (68,349) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: Miami-OH 2-0, Missouri 2-0. Away Record: Miami- OH 0-1, Missouri 0-0. Neutral Record: Miami-OH 0-0, Missouri 1-0. Conference Record: Miami-OH 1-0, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers close out the non-conference portion of their schedule when they open the Faurot Field gates this Saturday to the Miami-Ohio RedHawks.
This marks the first-ever meeting between Miami-Ohio and Missouri on the gridiron.
After starting the season with a 34-12 loss at Florida, Miami has rebounded with two straight wins at home. Last weekend, the RedHawks claimed a 31-10 win over Colorado State. Beginning with this weekend's bout, three of their next four games will be on the road.
Missouri had a little more trouble than expected in last Saturday's 27-24 win at home over San Diego State. This is Missouri's final dustup before the Big 12 schedule begins in two weeks against Colorado, also at home. The Tigers won't play their first true road game until October 16th.
Miami has scored in every quarter of its first three games, certainly an encouraging sign from a consistency standpoint. Also encouraging has been the play of sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert, who is coming off a 231-yard, three- touchdown performance against Colorado State. Most impressive was the fact that Dysert completed 18-of-22 passes and didn't throw any interceptions. His favorite target has been Armand Robinson, who has compiled 22 catches and two scores through three games, while averaging 94.3 receiving yards per contest. On the ground, Tracy Woods picked up 85 yards on 19 carries (4.5 ypc) in last week's victory.
The Miami defense took away Colorado State's running game, holding the Rams to 13 net yards on 21 carries. In fact, the RedHawks currently rank fifth in the nation in run defense (55.3 ypg). And while wins over the likes of CSU and Eastern Michigan have certainly contributed to that, it's worth noting the RedHawks also limited the Florida Gators to 99 rushing yards and 3.2 yards per carry as a team in the opener. In the passing game, Miami allowed Rams' quarterback Pete Thomas to rack up 305 yards and a touchdown through the air last week, although the RedHawks also notched a pair of interceptions and four sacks.
So far, Missouri's offense hasn't exactly been the same scoring machine of recent seasons, save for a 50-6 drubbing of FCS school McNeese State a couple of weeks ago. However, the Tigers no doubt proved last Saturday that they have the gumption to make a big play when their backs are against the wall. Trailing by four with just under a minute to play against San Diego State, T.J. Moe hauled in a short pass in the flat, put on a nifty juke, and raced down the sideline for a game-winning 68 touchdown. Put simply, if the Tigers rally their way into contention for a Big 12 title as the season wears on, that dramatic touchdown would be looked back upon as the play that changed the team's course.
On the other hand, the Tigers have spent the last week being haunted by visions of Aztecs' freshman running back Ronnie Hillman cutting and dashing his way through their defense. Hillman gashed Mizzou for a career-high 235 yards on the ground, including touchdown runs of 75 and 93 yards. Fortunately for the Tigers, Miami doesn't have a halfback with Hillman's athleticism. The Tigers strength on that side of the ball has been defending the pass, as they rank fifth in the nation in pass efficiency defense (82.11). If Miami's Dysert is on his game like he was last week, it will be an interesting battle to see who bends first.
Stringing together wins is not the norm for a Miami program that just won back-to-back games for the first time since 2007. Going on the road against an unbeaten Missouri squad is hardly the recipe for setting a new trend.