Friday, October 22, 1999

Miami still has shot at bowl

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This is a critical week for the Miami University football team, and the RedHawks don't even play.

        Athletic Director Joel Maturi is in Cleveland attending the Mid-American Conference meetings, which began Thursday and continue today. The MAC bowl situation was to be a topic of discussion.

        The MAC is affiliated with the Motor City Bowl, but the conference is not required to send its champion there. With Marshall ranked No.15 and undefeated, speculation is that the Thundering Herd could do better than the Motor City.

        So if Marshall goes elsewhere, and Miami finishes with the second-best overall record, Maturi wants the second bid to go to the RedHawks, not to the runner-up in the MAC championship game.

        “When this came up last year, it was agreed that the team with the second-best overall record would go,” he said.

        Miami, because it plays in the MAC East with Marshall, has almost no chance of reaching the title game. The RedHawks are tied with Akron and Western Michigan with the second-best overall record at 5-2.

        “There's a lot of football left to play,” Maturi said.

        Miami has Cincinnati (Oct.30), Akron (Nov.6) at Ohio (Nov.13) and Buffalo (Nov.20) left. If the RedHawks can win out — and they'll be favored in all four games — they almost assuredly will finish with the second-best record in the MAC.

        Akron and Western play Oct.30, and Western goes to Marshall Nov.13.

        But as attractive as Marshall looks — a Heisman candidate in Chad Pennington, a win on national TV, fans that travel — a second bowl is no lock.

        There are two at-large bids, and one of them is the Motor City. The other, the Aloha Bowl, would be more attractive to Marshall, which has gone to the Motor City the last two years.

        More could open up if the major conferences fail to qualify teams to their guaranteed spots. Teams must have a winning record to be bowl-eligible. The Pac 10, for example, probably will not be able to fill its six slots.

        “We're hopeful,” Maturi said. “We want our kids to have something to play for.”


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