Posted by Chip Patterson
The Basics: Middle Tennessee (6-6) takes on Miami (OH) (9-4) in the GoDaddy.com Bowl at 8:00 in Mobile, AL
Why to watch: Oh you mean other than for the GoDaddy commercials? This game features one of the greatest turnaround stories of the 2010 season, with Miami flipping last year's 1-11 season to a 9-4 record and a MAC conference championship. However, the Redhawks are stuck in coaching limbo, with head coach Mike Haywood gone after accepting the position (and quickly being dismissed) as PIttsburgh's head coach. Miami has already hired Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell to take over in 2011, but defensive backs coach Lance Guldry will serve as the interim.
Middle Tennessee had to start the season without their star quarterback Dwight Dasher, who was suspended for the first four games for accepting a $1,500 loan. Dasher has made the most of his time on the field, accumulating 13 combined rushing and passing touchdowns in just eight games of play. The dual threat quarterback has a dangerous, and occasionally sloppy, style of play that makes each game interesting. He'll face one of his toughest challenges yet going up against a Miami defense that is only giving up 13.6 points per game on their current five-game winning streak.
Keys to victory for Middle Tennessee: Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Boucher has played exceptionally for Miami since starter Zach Dysert's season was finished due to injury, but much of that has been set up thanks to the running game. If Middle Tennessee can use their potent offense to jump out to an early lead, they can dial up the pass rush on the young signal caller. The responsibility for that early lead will fall on quarterback Dwight Dasher. Dasher has struggled with his decision making at times this season, racking up 14 interceptions in just eight games. The time off will help Dasher, who has been banged up much of the season, and Blue Raider fans hope that the improved health with assist in keeping him comfortable in the pocket. If Middle Tennessee can play mistake-free on the offensive end and build a decent lead, they will force Boucher to move the ball with some urgency -- something he hasn't had to do yet this season.
Keys to victory for Miami (Ohio): Just the opposite. Keep Dasher in the pocket and force him to beat you as a traditional quarterback. At 5-10, Dasher cannot hurt you as bad from the pocket as he can on the run. If the Miami pass rush can keep him one-dimensional, it will take a lot of the pressure off a vulnerable Redhawks secondary. Also, if Miami's offensive line can step up and create holes for running back Thomas Merriweather the Redhawks can dictate the pace of the game. Merriweather is averaging 136.0 yards rushing in his last three outings, and has been an integral part of the Redhawks five game winning streak. Finally, the onus will fall on the Miami seniors to lead this basically coach-less team. With Haywood gone, and Treadwell only in attendance, this is the time for the players to take charge on the field and in the locker room. If Miami can get inspired play from their upperclassmen, it could provide the example to lead the Redhawks to their first bowl victory since 2003. That team was led by a current two-time Super Bowl winner you might have heard of: Ben Roethlisberger.
The GoDaddy.com Bowl is like: A palette cleanser - After an exhausting week of bowls, we get a nice little break before we head into our final stretch. The GoDaddy.com bowl will feature two teams that are playing their equivalent of a Super Bowl, and the level of competition should be up to par with any of the other bowls this week. The talent level will be a noticeable difference, but it serves as a kind reboot before we prepare for the final games of the college football season.