On paper the story of this game is going to be NIU’s defense vs UB’s offense. Can the Bulls offense crack a defense that has been the pride of the MAC West this year?
Buffalo has been scoring 16 more points a game than the NIU huskies this year and their 35 points a game puts UB in the top quarter of all division one programs. But on a national scale NIU’s defense is slightly more impressive, holding teams to 24 points a game which is good for 24th nationally.
The difference is that when you flip the roles that parity dissapears. UB’s defense has been, for the most part, a solid unit. NIU’s offense has been pretty bad with a few decent games sprinkled in.
The sore spot for UB’s defense is the redzone. When an opponent gets into the redzone they get into the endzone 2/3rds of the time. and that puts them in the bottom quarter of the FBS.
But putting aside the numbers there are two things to consider.
First is that the Bulls have not beaten NIU since 1968. Buffalo is 0-10 in MAC play, and the vast majority of those games were blowouts.
Secondly is that this is the first time in a decade UB will be playing for a MAC title in Detroit, for NIU it’s basically an annual thing. That, more than any of the stats below may be the biggest part of this game. NIU’s experience in big games vs UB’s inexperience.