By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer
OXFORD - Sure, Miami University quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 377 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against the University of Cincinnati.
That's what he's supposed to do as a Heisman candidate playing against a defense that gave up 415 passing yards last week to Temple.
But Roethlisberger wasn't supposed to go his senior tight end, Matt Brandt, eight times for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Brandt set career highs in touchdown catches and receiving yards in the RedHawks' 42-37 win.
"You know, you get open, and I have confidence in my abilities, and I have even more confidence in Ben," said Brandt, who tied a career high and led Miami with eight receptions. "I happened to be in the right place at the right time and capitalized on the opportunities. That's what you want to do. Some of them were pretty tight throws, and Ben was able to squeeze it in there."
Brandt caught a 14-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter, putting Miami ahead 21-0. After Cincinnati closed the halftime gap to 11 points, he scored Miami's first touchdown of the second half on a 7-yard reception, extending the lead to 35-17. Brandt had seven receptions, none for TDs, entering Saturday's game.
"Matt's a good threat for us," Roethlisberger said. "He's a converted quarterback to (tight end). He's fast, he can move. He hasn't really had a big game, yet, 'til today. I think they (UC defenders) were overlooking him, going to the receivers a little more, because of how explosive they are.
"Matt's big enough, if you just put it into his body, he's going to make the catch and kind of box out the defender."
At 6 feet 3, 255 pounds, Brandt had no trouble sliding to the ground near the sideline to haul in a 20-yard reception for a first down to continue a fourth-quarter scoring drive.
"I always expect to catch it," Brandt said. "That was a tough catch, but I was able to come up with it somehow."
Roethlisberger's two touchdown passes were thrown to Brandt. His presence as yet another receiving option stretched UC's defense even thinner when Roethlisberger needed a big play.
"They picked on our linebackers and safeties," said UC coach Rick Minter. "The tight end caught money downs. He put the ball in the end zone."
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