Buffalo looks to end season on winning streak

Bulls face Kent State in final home game Wednesday

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The football team had lost four straight games and fallen to three games under .500 before last Tuesday’s game against Akron.

But after scoring the most points against a Mid-American Conference opponent in program history in a dominant 55-24 victory over the Zips, the Bulls (4-6, 2-4 MAC) can still end their season at .500.

“The win was important because it got this team back on track after four losses,” said interim head coach Alex Wood. “Now, we need to stay on track and finish this season on a good note.”

The Bulls will look to win two games in a row for the first time since Sept. 27 when they host Kent State (1-9, 0-6 MAC) Wednesday at UB Stadium. It will be Buffalo’s final home game of the season.

Kent State’s offense has been one of the conference’s worst, ranking 12th in the MAC in both scoring and total offense. Buffalo ranks 12th in the conference in scoring defense but had its best performance against an FBS opponent this season last week against Akron (4-6, 2-4 MAC).

“The defense has been gaining confidence,” said sophomore outside linebacker Jarrett Franklin. “We’ve been gaining confidence in our chemistry, our communications and our schemes. I believe we’ve tightened up on all three levels and that allowed us to show how good we can be last week.”

The Bulls held the Zips to 15 total first downs and 229 total yards last week. Franklin said Buffalo’s 37-14 loss to Ohio (5-5, 3-3 MAC) Nov. 5 was a “turning point” for the defense.

“We learned that if the offense did something bad, the defense had to step up for us, and if the defense has a bad moment, the offense will take care and cover for them,” Franklin said.

Buffalo’s offense scored 55 points last week after scoring just 28 points in its prior two games combined. One of the keys to the Bulls’ offensive improvement was the running game.

“The biggest thing from last week is that we got to run the ball 54 times,” Wood said. “We got back to that winning formula offensively. We got into a rhythm and played a more balanced game. We need to continue to maintain that balance to end the season on a high note.”

With running backs Anthone Taylor and Jordan Johnson both coming off 100-yard rushing games against Akron, the Bulls will look to take advantage of a weak Kent State rushing defense Wednesday night.

The Golden Flashes’ rush defense ranks 12th in the conference – giving up 216.6 rushing yards per game. Kent State allowed opponents to run for more than 150 rushing yards in three of its last four games.

The Golden Flashes’ pass defense ranks second in the MAC, however, allowing just 218.8 yards per game. Despite Kent State’s winless conference record, Wood said Buffalo is not taking the Golden Flashes lightly.

“Kent State works hard each and every game,” Wood said. “Each game, the margin is within seven to 10 points … we can’t look at the record and say, ‘This is a win,’ because it’s not. They’re a dangerous team.”

Kent State’s lone win this season came over Army (3-7), 39-17, Oct. 18. Army defeated Buffalo 47-39 Sept. 6 and led the Bulls by 30 in the fourth quarter.

Wednesday’s game is set for 8 p.m. and will be featured on ESPNU. The Strictly Hip’s Tailgate Concert Series performance and rest of the Stampede Square activities are canceled due to the weather.

email: sports@ubspectrum.com

Kent State at Buffalo (-7): Staff predictions

Owen O’Brien, Managing Editor

@owenobri (7-3): Buffalo

Kent State’s 1-9 record is misleading. Five of its six MAC loses are by 10 points or less. This won’t be easy, but Buffalo is motivated to salvage what it can of this season.

Tom Dinki, Senior Sports Editor

@tomdinki (8-2): Buffalo

After last week’s win, Buffalo should be motivated to get one last win at home over the worst team in the MAC.

Andy Koniuch, Sports Editor

@andykoniuch (7-3): Buffalo

The Bulls are looking to close out the season with pride coming off a 55-24 victory over Akron. Buffalo by a touchdown.

Jordan Grossman, Asst. Sports Editor

@jordangrossman (7-3): Buffalo

Even if weather affects the passing game, Buffalo still has the better rush defense and offense. Buffalo in a landslide.