When Buffalo comes home to take on Stony Brook in their home opener Saturday afternoon, they’ll be taking on a team much better than their division alignment would indicate.
Despite playing the in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), a Football Championship Series (FCS) conference, Stony Brook is still a very talented team that has the ability to give the Bulls a scare.
The Sea Wolves are coming off a 10-3 season in which they qualified for the FCS playoffs while defeating Army and giving Syracuse a good game along the way.
They’re experienced playing against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams and have already faced the Bulls two years ago, a 35-7 loss for the Sea Wolves at UB Stadium.
Both teams have improved a lot since that point and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out on the field Saturday.
Buffalo displays more talent, plays a division up while facing better competition but has had a lot less success in terms of winning.
All Stony Brook has done the last two years is win. Including their 24-0 win over Rhode Island last week, the Sea Wolves are 20-7 over the past two seasons.
Ranked 14th in the FCS, Stony Brook is a ball control team that likes to eat up lots of clock.
In their opening week win over Rhode Island, the Sea Wolves ran the ball nearly twice as often as they passed, rushing for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.
Talented senior Marcus Coker gets the majority of the carries for Stony Brook. An Iowa transfer who was 2nd Team Big 10 as a sophomore, Coker is an impact player who has rushed for over 3,000 yards during his career.
Sea Wolves coach Chuck Priore uses their run game to set up play action passes.
Lyle Negron takes the snaps behind center for Stony Brook. Entering his first year as the Sea Wolves starting quarterback, Negron will try to act as a game manager Saturday against what should be an aggressive Bulls defense.
Negron only attempted 19 passes in the Sea Wolves win over Rhode Island, completing 12 of his attempts for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Much more impressive than the way their offense played last week was how their defense played, shutting out Rhode Island.
Bulls coach Jeff Quinn was impressed with both of the Sea Wolves inside linebackers and was complimentary of their defensive unit.
With all the above said about Stony Brook, it’ll still be a tremendous challenge for them to compete with Buffalo on Saturday.
The Bulls have too much talent on both sides of the ball for the Sea Wolves to compete. Sure, Buffalo just got ran over by Baylor but that would happen to most teams taking on the fast-paced Bears squad in 120 degree weather.
Entering at 0-2, the Bulls want to get in the win column and are finally taking on a team whose skill level is beneath theirs. Buffalo is hungry to prove to everyone that the preseason hype surrounding them was deserved.
Expect Quinn to keep calling Branden Oliver's number the entire afternoon to try and spark the Bulls running game. Oliver and the Bulls offensive line have gotten off to a slow start and it’s something Quinn wants them to work on.
Also expect Joe Licata and Alex Neutz to have solid days as both have played very well against Top-25 competition the past two weeks. I don't see that changing against a lesser Stony Brook squad.
On defense, the Bulls need to find answers. Despite Khalil Mack’s dominant play at times, Buffalo has not performed well as a defensive unit. The rest of the Bulls defensive core needs to step up.
Saturday should provide the perfect opportunity for Quinn's squad to gain some confidence and earn their first win of the season.
Stony Brook is not to be taken lightly but they shouldn’t be able to keep up with the Bulls.
Buffalo took them out with ease the last time the two squads took on one another and I expect a similar result again this year.
Prediction: Buffalo 38-10