The Bulls are back home this week as they take on the defending MAC Champs Western Michigan in a huge homecoming match up. Buffalo is coming off of a 27-13 victory against Kent State in what was a must win game for the Bulls. This week however will not be as easy of a task, as WMU looks as strong as ever. Add in to the mix that sophomore quarterback Tyree Jackson most likely will be out this week and it is all hands on deck.
The Broncos are known for having a strong offense this year that is currently averaging 37.2 points per game, including putting up 55 points against fellow MAC West team Ball State. On the flip side however, WMU is allowing a large 24.4 points against. While they have allowed just 17 total points in the last two weeks, the Broncos do like to let up some scoring.
The biggest fight of the game will be how UB holds up on defense. Buffalo is currently letting up just 18.4 points per game, a huge advantage in most games. While the offense has been good not great (23.6 ppg), this game will be won on the defensive side of the ball. If WMU is able to impose their will on offense and sustain long drives, it will be a long game for UB. If they can force some punts and Buffalo converts first downs, I expect you’ll see a happy Bulls celebration come Saturday night. Now let’s take a look at some specific match ups to watch for.
What To Watch For
Can Drew Anderson control a big game
Drew Anderson has been great for the Bulls in doing everything he has had to. While he hasn’t been flawless, he’s kept the ball moving and has helped the Bulls pick up two must win games. Now the question becomes, how will he handle a game Buffalo isn’t necessarily favored to win. If the Bulls fall down early, will he show leadership in the huddle and keep the energy up? Keep an eye on how Anderson handles himself in a big moment in the season.
Can Khalil Hodge keep his stellar season going?
Hodge has been great this year for the Bulls from the linebacker position. He always seems to be in the right spot to make a tackle and brings the energy to the defense. Him, Chris Ford, and Tim Roberts have all been studs on the defensive side of the ball and they’ll need to play a tough game to get the win this week.
Will Special Teams hold up?
WMU has one of the top rated special teams in the nation (including being ranked #2 in the nation last week). While an often underrated part of the game, starting field position determines winners and losers. Adam Mitcheson will need to have a strong game not only on field goals but also on kickoffs to try and limit the Broncos return yardage. Kyle DeWeen will need to make sure he gets air under his punts and also limits return yards by the dangerous WMU squad. If they can play lights out, I trust UB’s defense to do the rest.
I would say this is a bonus game for UB in that it isn’t a must win to go bowling, but would be so nice to have under our belts. This season I feel like the team can compete with anyone on their schedule so I wouldn’t expect a blow out like we faced last season. I do think WMU will take the win this week 27-17 but I think Buffalo will compete the entire time. I think Drew Anderson will do enough through the air and Emmanual Reed will punish the Broncos defense. I just don’t think the team is going to come away with a win against a very talented team. As always when I pick the Bulls to lose, I really hope to be wrong and that we can celebrate a victory come Saturday night. Until then, go Bulls!