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UB Bulls vs. Ohio: Who has the edge?

Buffalo to take on Bobcats Saturday

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The Buffalo football team (2-4, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) is coming off its worst loss of the season, a 51-14 drubbing at the hands of Central Michigan. The loss was its second in conference play and third in a row. Can the Bulls get off the losing streak with a victory over Ohio (5-2, 2-1 MAC) Saturday?

The Spectrum has your scouting report on both teams and how the Bulls matchup against the Bobcats.

Quarterbacks: Buffalo

Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick has the better numbers across the board, but we give to the edge to Bulls senior Joe Licata.

Licata has struggled in recent weeks, throwing just four touchdowns and five interceptions during his past four games. But he’s the better overall quarterback heading into the game and is due for a rebound game.

Running backs: Ohio

For Ohio, it’s the strength in numbers that gives it the edge over Buffalo’s dynamic duo.

Ohio’s trio of Daz’mond Patterson, A.J. Ouellette and Papi White are all reliable backs that have had success this year. White is currently averaging 6.1 yards per carry, while Patterson and Ouellete have combined for eight touchdowns this season.

Combine that with the fact senior Anthone Taylor is questionable – the edge has to go to Ohio. Bulls junior unning back Jordan Johnson is more than capable, but we like Ohio’s trio more than Johnson and an injured Taylor.

Wide receivers and tight ends: Buffalo

The amount of talent the Bulls have at this position is insane.

Seniors Ron Willoughby and Marcus McGill on the outside, providing reliable targets on the outside. Buffalo has sophomore receiver Collin Lisa on the inside with Jacob Martinez as the team’s fourth receiver. Then, consider the Bulls have senior tight end Matt Weiser, who’s in the midst of a breakout season for the Bulls.

On the other side, Ohio has Sebastian Smith and his five touchdowns receptions this season. Outside of Smith, Ohio’s receivers and tight end have been sporadic, garnering stats, but not at the level of Buffalo’s skill players.

Offensive line: Buffalo

The Bulls are continuing to develop their offensive line and we are giving them the edge.

The interior combination of freshman center James O’Hagan and sophomore guard Brandon Manosalvas are continuing to develop and solidify a line that has allowed Licata to get off some difficult throws over the last three games.

For now, the Bobcats have allowed 15 sacks on the season, compared to Buffalo’s 11 sacks allowed. An improving starting cast gives Buffalo the edge over Ohio.

Defensive Line: Ohio

With the Bobcats come the second best scoring defense and fourth-best team in the MAC in sacks.

Ohio’s Quentin Poling, Kurt Laseak and Tarell Basham all have three sacks on the year, providing the Bobcats’ with a solid pass rush.

Buffalo’s defensive line has been the weakest part of the team the last two weeks, struggling to stop opponents in the running game while failing to produce pressure on the opponent’s quarterback. One player that has played well is junior defensive tackle Brandon Crawford, who got a sack last week against Central Michigan and ranks second on the team with two sacks.

Linebackers: Ohio

Ohio’s defense touts an impressive group of linebackers. Poling has 40 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions while Blair Brown leads the team with 49 tackles.

Both Buffalo and Ohio sport talented linebackers, but Ohio’s group gets the edge for their ability to create more pressure and get to the quarterback, something the Bulls desperately need at this moment in time.

Secondary: Ohio

The Bulls have the best individual talent in junior Boise Ross, who’s continuing his breakout season and continues to be someone conference opponents want to avoid.

For the Bobcats, however, they get the edge because of their strength in numbers.

The bobcats have made nine interceptions this season, including two from cornerback Ian Wells, who also has six pass breakups on the season. Ohio also ranks third in the MAC in pass defense.

Special Teams: Buffalo

Buffalo’s special teams have been solid, outside of last week’s blocked punt for a safety. Freshman Adam Mitcheson has gone 16-of-18 on extra points this season and 7-of-9 on field goals. Meanwhile, senior punter Tyler Grassman has 30 punts this year for 1238 yards, including nine punts falling inside the 20-yard line.

Ohio has Josiah Yazdani as their kicker, going 25-of-25 on extra points and 4-of-6 on field goals this season.

Coaching: Ohio

This is one of the rare occurrences where Leipold’s accolades are overshadowed by the head coach across the field.

Before landing at Ohio, Frank Solich was a head coach at the University of Nebraska. There, he led them to a record of 58-19 and two Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) bowl games - the Fiesta Bowl in 1999 and the Rose Bowl in 2001 - and one national championship game during his tenure.

Leipold is known for his success on the Division-III level at Wisconsin-Whitewater, so Solich gets the edge.

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Haynes_Spectrum.


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