Redhawks take on No. 6 Buckeyes for the first time in seven years


Freshman Ivan Pace Jr. has enjoyed have Luke Bolden, a former high school teammate from Colerain High School on the field with him at Miami. The two have played football together since middle school. Photo by Massillon Myers

By Massillon Myers

Miami RedHawks travel to Columbus to play No. 6 ranked Ohio State this Saturday. They’ll face a Buckeyes team that has beaten Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati and Indiana by an average of 43 points per game. Miami, on paper, is a 40-point underdog. 

Also, on paper, Miami will reap quite the financial benefit. By traveling to Columbus, Miami will receive $1.3 million for playing Ohio State. 

“It’s kind of like going recess, and they have the first 85 picks,” Miami head coach Chuck Martin said at his press conference Monday. “It’s an awesome opportunity for us to continue to figure out where we’re at in 2019.”

In other non-conference games this season, Ohio State paid Florida Atlantic $1.4 million and Cincinnati $375,000 to come to Ohio Stadium and fill holes in its schedule. That happens across the nation, as USA Today reported.

For Miami, this will be another AP top 25 opponent after playing No. 20 Iowa in week one. Miami received $1.2 million for traveling to Kinnick Stadium to play Iowa. For Ohio State, this will be its last non-conference opponent before the team gets into Big Ten play.

Miami (1-2) is coming off of a 35-13 loss in the Battle for the Victory Bell against Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. The RedHawks took a 10-0 lead into the second quarter before Cincinnati scored 28 unanswered points and eventually won 35-13.

Ohio State leads the all-time series with Miami 5-0. The two teams first met in 1904 ending in an 80-0 win for the Buckeyes. The latest meeting was in Columbus in 2012 when Ohio State won 56-10.

Martin isn’t expecting anything different from this 2019 Buckeye team that comes in with a new quarterback in Justin Fields and a new head coach in Ryan Day.

“They’re what you expect — they’re a really good Ohio State team,” said Martin. “They’ve been really good for a number of years, playing in the top five, top 10, or higher caliber. They don’t have any weaknesses. They’ve got good players backed up by good players.” 

It will be the first time that this group of RedHawks plays the Buckeyes, but four RedHawks will be seeing a familiar face on the opposing sideline. 

Four freshmen on the Miami roster played at Colerain High School: Linebackers Luke Bolden and Ivan Pace Jr., offensive lineman Rusty Feth, and wide receiver Syncere Jones. Ohio State junior cornerback Amir Riep also went to Colerain High School.

“It’s going to be fun going against him,” Bolden said. “I haven’t seen him in a while since he’s a little bit older, but it’s going to be nice to see him and talk to him again and say what’s up and keep in touch.”

In total, there are 17 players (seven for Miami and 10 for Ohio State) that are from the greater Cincinnati area. 

The four Colerain graduates on Miami’s roster are acclimating to life as Redhawks. They’ve all gotten playing time in the games so far: Bolden has two tackles; Pace Jr. has five tackles, and Feth has played in one game and looks to get more action this weekend. The offensive line is banged up from the physical slate of opening games.

“It’s awesome having them here. We hang out and talk every day,” said Bolden of his former high school teammates. “It’s cool having people you grew up with your whole life and then playing college ball with them; it’s awesome.”

After football playing for his dad, Tom Bolden, at Colerain High School, Luke Bolden graduated early and got a head start on all the other first-years at Miami. Photo by Massillon Myers

The Colerain guys played at a high school powerhouse and lost in the Ohio Division I state championship to St. Edward 24-10 last November at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Acclimating to a new campus while having a few familiar faces has been a plus.

“Coming from a top dog to a little dog in college life — because in high school I was a top dog and now I’m a little dog — you just gotta keep working and get up to the top,” said Pace.

Even though he grew up in the Greater Cincinnati area as a Cincinnati Bearcats fan, Pace Jr. has always wanted to play at Ohio Stadium.

“That was always a dream to play there,” said Pace. “Opposite team obviously, but this will be a dream come true.”

Playing in Ohio Stadium will be a pleasant experience for the whole team before the RedHawks start conference play against Buffalo, at home Sept. 28.

“Every week is a learning thing. Obviously, Ohio State is going to test your physical toughness, it’s certainly going to test your mental toughness, it’s certainly going to test your ability to deal with adversity,” said Martin. “Those are all things that are all really good for our football team.”

Kickoff is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.