The Buffalo defense was not able to contain the Kaleb Elbely to Skyy More connection well enough to cover up for UB’s sluggish offense in a 24-17 defeat to Western Michigan in the Bulls conference opener.
Through three quarters the defense held firm, including one impressive stand of back-to-back drives where WMU had a starting field position within the UB 30-yard line. But in the fourth quarter, Eleby found Moore for a long pass that gave WMU a 17-10 lead they would not relinquish. The following drive the Bronco’s milked the clock and got into the endzone to put the game practically out of reach.
Kyle Vantrease led UB down the field late for a score to bring the Bulls to within in score, but unable to recover an onside kick UB sat back and watched WMU kill the clock.
Aside from the last drive, UB had two other drives of note. One was a two-play drive capped by a 55 yard Ron Cook touchdown and the other was a six-minute drive to start the second half where the Bulls drove town to take a 10-7 lead.
The defense did bend, a lot, Moore stacked up 163 yards receiving and Eleby threw for almost 300 yards (279), but they made a lot of key plays to keep UB in the game.
The offense, once again, was not at all consistent in the second half, mirroring what happened last week at Old Dominion.
UB had a 62-yard drive to open up the second half but after that four three-and-out drives which totaled 4 total yards. This put the defense on the field too long, and often in poor field position. The Bronco’s are too good a team to give that many shots.
So what’s the impact of this loss on Buffalo’s season?
Well WMU is one of the better teams in the MAC, they played as good, if not better, than anyone out of the conference so the loss is not a sign UB cannot compete for a Bowl game or even their division.
But the MAC East is shaping up to be a bit more difficult than expected. Bowling Green is playing fantastic defense, Miami is looking competent, and Kent is strong. Even Ohio looks like they are starting to get their feet under them after a terrible start.
There are no “give me’s” on UB’s schedule outside of Akron so Buffalo needs to figure out how to play a solid second half of offense if they want to return to a bowl game for the fourth straight season.
Next up is a road trip to Kent, a team expected to win the MAC East this season.