Bulls take on RedHawks in home MAC East matchup
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
It was another tough weekend for the football team. The return of critical players – junior running back Branden Oliver, junior wide receiver Fred Lee and junior wide receiver Alex Neutz – wasn’t enough last Saturday.
The Bulls (1-7, 0-4 Mid-American Conference) came a few plays short against a talented Toledo (8-1, 5-0 MAC) squad and fell 25-20.
Buffalo will hope to put a notch in the win column this week when it takes on Miami Ohio (4-4, 3-1 MAC). The RedHawks come to town having just won an important MAC contest against previously ranked Ohio (7-1, 3-1 MAC), 23-20. They are now in position to compete for No. 1 in the MAC East. The Bulls will play Miami at UB Stadium at 12 p.m.
Miami Ohio has weapons on offense, including quarterback Zac Dysert and his go-to partner, wide receiver Nick Hartwell.
The RedHawks have struggled on defense, however, as they are ranked 115th nationally in total defense, giving up 495.6 yards per game. They have given up more than 30 points in five games this season and allowed more than 50 points twice – in losses to non-conference foes Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1 Big East) and Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten).
The last time they met… The Bulls were routed in Oxford, Ohio on Oct. 29, 2011. The RedHawks pulled away early in a 41-13 win on Homecoming Saturday – their first homecoming win since 2007. The Bulls struggled on the ground against a ferocious run defense, managing only 77 yards on 34 carries. Dysert tied a school record at the time with five touchdowns. He also threw for 313 yards and tossed only five incompletions.
Player to watch: Dysert is one of the biggest passing threats in the conference, and he has thrown for 2,225 yards and 15 touchdowns thus far this season. Earlier this year, he broke his own passing touchdown record, throwing for six against Akron in a wild 56-49 win. He also set a school record with a gaudy 624 yards of total offense. He is in seventh place on the all-time career passing yards in MAC history with 10,755 – just 75 yards behind Miami alum Ben Roethlisberger.
Matchup to watch: Bulls pass offense vs. RedHawk pass defense: The key to the Bulls pulling off a home win against the RedHawks will be the ability to pass the ball off play-action situations effectively. Buffalo’s ‘O’ has a favorable matchup, as the RedHawks’ 115th-ranked defense will stack the box against a Bulls team that has two solid running backs in Oliver and freshman Devin Campbell. With the emphasis on the run game, the play-action pass should be wide open for the new starter under center, redshirt freshman Joe Licata, as the wide receivers will have opportunities to work against man-to-man coverage.
He said it:
“A lot of younger guys that had an opportunity to play when we were out, they came stepped in and they got a lot more confidence now. So with that confidence knowing that they can play, they can come in and relieve us. And our veteran leadership, I feel like we are on the verge of a breakout game these next four games.”
– Fred Lee on the possibility that the Bulls could break out with their impact players back from injury.
Prediction: The Bulls are tired of just missing out on these wins. This is a team that is a few plays away from being 3-4. Miami is a talented team, especially on offense, but the Bulls have enough weapons offensively to pull this game out. Oliver should have a solid game as usual. If the passing game is consistent, the Bulls should win this game.
They have played almost every opponent close, having a chance to take a late lead in every game this year except for matchups against Georgia (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) and Northern Illinois (8-1, 5-0 MAC). It’s about time Buffalo finally wins one of these close games.