The Edge: Buffalo vs FAU
Analyzing the Bulls final non-conference game
The Buffalo Bulls (1-2) are set to finish up their non-conference schedule this week when they host the FAU Owls (1-2) on Saturday evening. Buffalo secured their first win of the season last week as they rolled through FCS opponent, the Colgate Raiders (1-2) and they will look to keep up the momentum this week.
Here is The Spectrum’s breakdown of the matchup.
The quarterbacks will be one of the best matchups in the game. Redshirt sophomore Tyree Jackson has been a star for the Bulls since the start of last year. It’s clear how far he has come from last year. His passer rating is 131.5 so far on the year, up almost 30 points from what it was last season.
Sophomore FAU quarterback Daniel Parr has been having an equally good season after spending last year as the backup for the Owls. Parr has a 135.5 passer rating. Both quarterbacks have 588 yards on the season.
They are equals through the air but Jackson takes the edge in the matchup because of his feet. Parr only has 30 yards on 24 carries. Jackson is the Bulls leading rusher with 189 yards for the season.
Running backs: FAU
The Bulls had their strongest running back showing last week when redshirt sophomore running back Emmanuel Reed crossed the century mark and scored a touchdown, both firsts on the year for UB running backs. Junior Johnathan Hawkins had 65 yards after and a score as well after only playing the first half.
But FAU has the superior group. The Owls have two different rushers who have over 200 yards for the season. They have also combined for three scores. Sophomore running back Devin Singletary seems to be the guy they lean on and has almost twice as many carries and had a great game against a ranked opponent in Wisconsin. Senior Gregory Howell Jr. broke out last game against an FCS opponent and had 175 yards.
The Bulls’ running backs looked good last week, but FAU gets the nod in the matchup.
Wide receivers: Buffalo
This one is a tough call. Both teams rely heavily upon one receiver to handle the bulk of the workload. Junior FAU receiver DeAndre McNeal has 11 catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt junior Anthony Johnson has 16 catches for 282 yards and a touchdown.
No other receivers in the game have passed the 100-yard mark for the year. FAU’s second-leading receiver has seven catches. The Bulls’ number two receiver only has six catches. This one has to be judged primarily on the top two receivers and Buffalo grabs the slight edge there.
Tight Ends: FAU
Sophomore tight end Tyler Mabry caught the longest pass of the season for UB last week. He caught a 58-yarder that set up a touchdown for Johnson on the next play. But he only has one other catch on the year and will need to be more active.
Sophomore FAU tight end Harrison Bryant hasn’t been a major part of the Owls offense but he has caught at least one pass in every game this season. He is also the third leading receiver in terms of yardage for the Owls. This isn’t a star unit for either team but the Owls take the edge.
Offensive line: Buffalo
Both offensive lines dominated FCS schools last week and looked unstoppable. The previous two weeks they both struggled against a power five school and a military academy. Buffalo had over 300 yards on the ground while FAU had over 400.
This one will be determined by pass blocking though. The Owls have already given up nine sacks while the Bulls have only given up three. I expect this Bulls unit, who will be entering their fourth week with the same starters to be the winner in this showdown.
Defensive line: Buffalo
The Bulls’ defensive line has come miles from a year ago. They seem to be jamming things up for opponents on a consistent basis. They excel in pass rushing and facing all run heavy teams has hurt their rhythm. The Owls are no different and will look to establish the run game early.
I think the Bulls will be more disruptive in the game. The four Bulls’ starters have combined for five tackles for losses and 56 tackles. The Owls starters only have 33 tackles with only two for loss. Buffalo gets the edge.
The linebackers are a tight one but junior Khalil Hodge might just be one of the best mid-major linebackers in the nation. Add in Jarrett Franklin who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time and the Owls just don't have the same ability.
The Owls have 5 tackles for loss from their top two linebackers which is certainly an advantage. FAU junior Azeez Al-Shaair is their most dangerous weapon on defense but he’s not Hodge. The Owls are good but the Bulls take the edge if their linebackers can stay consistent.
Defensive backs: FAU
This one is painful. Junior cornerback Cameron Lewis is having an incredible season in coverage and senior safety Tim Roberts is helping shut down the run this year. They certainly could be the better unit.
But FAU has their own secondary stars. Sophomore Chris Tooley has two picks on the year while junior safety Jalen Young is the second leading tackler for the Owls. This one is close but there is a slight edge for FAU.
Special teams: FAU
Kicking continues to be an inconsistency for the Bulls as junior Adam Mitcheson is 9 for 12 on kicks this year. Two misses were field goals while the other was an extra point. Senior Greg Joseph is a perfect 12 for 12 for on the year. Consistency gives the clear edge to the Owls.
Final Decision: Buffalo
This should be a close game for all four quarters. The teams match up pretty well together and this could be a game that just comes down to one or two mistakes from either team.
So far these teams have played very similar schedules. Both have played a power-five conference team, a military academy and an FCS school. Both dominated the FCS school and fell to their other two opponents.
Ultimately, I think the Bulls will pull this one out and give themselves their first pair of back-to-back wins since October 2015.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at UB Stadium.
Daniel Petruccelli is the Co-Senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org