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Kent State Provides Buffalo First MAC Challenge

After opening MAC play 3-0 against the likes of Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Massachusetts, Buffalo receives their first conference challenge of the year this week when they take on Kent State.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

One year ago, a Kent State 23-7 victory over Buffalo kick-started a 10-game wining streak in what became a magical season for the Golden Flashes football program.

Kent State went on to go 11-3 overall, representing the MAC East in the MAC Championship game and the Bowl as well as being ranked in the top 25 for several weeks.

Buffalo went on to finish the year 4-8, trying to discover their identity as a team with a core group of talented juniors.

One year later, Kent State enters their matchup with the Bulls sitting at 2-6 while Buffalo is currently the team with the magical winning streak.

But despite Buffalo having won five straight, the Bulls still lack a signature victory.

Saturday presents their first opportunity.

Although the Golden Flashes sit at only 2-6, they're much better than their record indicates.

Kent State displays the most dynamic offensive player in the MAC in Dri Archer while Roosevelt Nix is an impact player on defense.

A tough schedule combined with Archer getting hurt in their opener has held the Golden Flashes back as they’ve dropped off from last year.

But make no mistake; Kent State marks the first challenging conference opponent on the Bulls schedule this year.

"We know that it’s going to be a four quarter battle," Jeff Quinn said during his weekly press conference Tuesday "It’s going to be a classic Mid-American Conference football game."

Archer, the Golden Flashes do-everything player is coming off a game against South Alabama in which he had 227 total yards and two touchdowns (114 rushing, 85 receiving, 28 kickoff return).

Containing him is easier said then done.

"There's nobody like him" Quinn said "We need to make sure that we're covering sideline to sideline and at the line of scrimmage along with being able to be active with our pursuit angles, wrap him up when we get our chances."

On the defensive side of the ball, Kent State isn't putting up the normally solid numbers that they have in the past but that doesn't mean they lack talent.

Coach Haynes squad posted a season-high four sacks and eight tackles for loss in their 38-21 loss at South Alabama last week.

Headlining their defensive unit is defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix.

Nix is Kent State's equivalent of Khalil Mack. He is a difference maker who consistently makes big plays.

Currently a senior, Nix is second among active FBS players in career tackles for loss (59), fifth in forced fumbles (10) and 14th in sacks (21.5).

There's no question that Kent State is a talented team. The only issue is that their talent hasn't translated into wins.

They kept close with two MAC West powers in Northern Illinois and Ball State before going on to lose tight contests.

They're better than what their record indicates and will provide challenges for Buffalo.

The good news for Bulls fans is that Quinn and his squad won't overlook Kent State despite their 2-6 record.

"I’m not looking at their record, our players are not looking their record" Quinn said, "We know Kent State, have a lot of respect for them."

The two teams hit the field Saturday afternoon at Dix Stadium.