It is hard to know what to make of Miami this year. They are 3-2 (2-0) on the season with relatively close wins, against Southern Illinois, UMass and against Akron, on the road. In their two other big non conference tests, against Ohio State and Boise State, the Redhawks hung well with the Buckeyes, for a quarter, and the Broncos, for a half. The next theoretical step is to carry a big team into a third quarter game.
That chance will come on Saturday, theoretically. Miami is 3-2, but they have undeniable issues. Those issues aren't offensive in nature. The offense has been fine, despite missing Nick Harwell for the past two games. Harwell would have to be considered questionable for this contest. The offense hasn't really missed a beat in his absense, because Zach Dysert has been phenomenal, currently ranked in the top 25 nationally in passing yards and TD's. He is not at the level great MACtion QB's of the past, like Dan LeFevour, Nate Davis, but he settles nicely into the Tim Hiller range. Dysert is coming off a game against Akron in which he set MAC records for total offense, 628 yards, and TD passes, with 6.
As good as Dysert is, he is still hampered by an offensive line that is, once again, an active disaster zone. Through 5 games the Redhawks have allowed 12 sacks, and 26 tackles for loss. Predictably, the offensive line isn't doing much in the run game either. The Redhawks are 112th in the country in rushing, 99th on a yards per carry basis. Miami's offense isn't perfect, and they could desperately use a play maker other than Dysert, but its workable. Not workable, the defense in general.
Miami is among the 25 worst teams in the country in stopping the run, stopping the pass, stopping the opposing team from scoring and stopping them from gaining yardage. If the Miami defense replaced the stop sign, there would be massive four car collisions at intersections nation wide. Through five games opposing offenses are gaining 6.6 yards per play. Woof. One stat sums up the Miami defense better than others though, opposing teams are racking up, on average, 19 plays of greater than 10 yards. And its not like they turn people over either, just 8 takeaways on the year. So...yeah, not good for Miami.
Zach Dysert has what it takes to make this game interesting, but he simply does not have any help, and its a huge problem for Miami. I have a hard time envisioning this game turning out any differently than the last 6 have.