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Stat Preview: Florida Atlantic

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

State University of New York at Buffalo Bulls (1-1) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls (0-2)

Both teams are coming off of losses against Power 5 opponents. Buffalo heads to Boca Raton after a wash-out at State College where penalties and the Nittany Lion defensive line shut down any optimism Bulls fans had leading into the game. FAU plays at home again following the Miami loss where, similarly, they remained competitive until the late 3rd quarter where Miami was able to pull away to a 44-20 victory.

Let's compare the Owls to their foes that they have played thus far:

Owls 2 94 523 5.6 4
Opponents 2 95 420 4.4 8
Owls 2 42 69 60.9% 429 3 2
Opponents 2 43 69 62.3% 724 3 2

In terms of passing, the Owls and their opponents are very similar in most regards. Attempts, completions, percentage, touchdowns and interceptions are all nearly identical. The only difference comes in total yards where Tulsa and Miami combined for almost 300 more passing yards between the two games. The Owls are averaging 6.21 yards per attempt, a testament to their game plan of using short, underneath, less than 15-yard passes as the bulk of their passing offense. JaQuez Johnson is extremely efficient in this range, although it looks like Jason Driskel may get the start with Johnson nursing an ankle sprain.

Looking at the running game, the Owls have had a slight edge over their opponents so far. With almost identical attempts again, the Owls are outgaining opponents by a total of around 100 yards. Touchdowns are the only opportunity for them as their opponents have punched it in the endzone twice as often on the ground. Comparing to Buffalo, the Bulls have allowed 341 yards on the ground while only gaining 281 yards themselves. Although the run defense has been decent thus far in the season (minus a couple SaQuon Barkley rushes), look for FAU to challenge them with their 2 back rotation.

And onto the defense:

Owls 2 91 45.5 4 2
Bulls 2 41 20.5 2 2

The Owls are allowing 25 more points a game up to this point than the Bulls. Who would've thought that after a shift to a new 4-3 scheme, a handful of starting true freshmen, and last year's defensive misery that we would see these numbers. So far the Bulls have seen an FCS opponent and a B1G opponent that will not win many conference games this year because of their under-performing offense. If the Bulls are able to maintain their points allowed total around this number, this team will become bowl-eligible.

The Bulls will look to exploit the FAU secondary. They have given up 724 yards through the air in just two games. If there is any aspect of the game that is a good match-up for the Bulls it their wide-receivers vs. the Owl's defensive backs. The Owls also start a very young linebacking core. Based on past numbers alone, I expect the Owls to outrush the Bulls. Even though UB played a very good defensive line in Penn State, which is lowering rushing yards through only two games.

This will be a true test for the UB defensive line and linebackers. At Penn State, they had a very good showing at stopping Akeel Lynch, and halting the Penn State offense. Will the Bulls continue this trend or give some more ground?

3rd Down Efficiency 3rd MADE 3rd ATT 3rd %
Owls 11 31 35.5%
Bulls 10 29 34.5%
Opponents Of 3rd MADE 3rd ATT 3rd %
Owls 12 31 38.7%
Bulls 13 29 44.8%

Both teams have about the same success rate on third down conversions. My only area of concern is that the Bulls are allowing almost a 45% success rate for their opponents 3rd down attempts, 6% higher than what the Owls are allowing. Both teams will be looking to gain good yardage on early downs to make their third down attempts much shorter. UB will need to show some improvement on defensive 3rd down attempts if they want to be successful on Saturday.

Final Note: Both teams have committed 21 penalties on the season so far. Let's hope for both of our teams' sakes that this trend does not continue, or we will see a lot of yellow on the field on Saturday.