Looking for another first
Bulls seek first-ever win against Eagles Saturday
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 22:10
After knocking off UConn (0-4) for the first time in 12 years last week, the football team will face another team it has historically had trouble beating.
The Bulls (2-2) host Eastern Michigan (1-3, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) in Saturday’s homecoming game. The Eagles are 5-0 all-time against Buffalo with the teams last meeting in 2011 in Ypsilanti, Mich.
If Buffalo emerges victorious, it will advance to 3-2 for the first time since joining the FBS in 1999.
“Our team has set goals for ourselves, and it’s important for them to know how to transition out of [last week] and move forward into the preparation against Eastern Michigan,” said head coach Jeff Quinn.
The Bulls’ front seven did a tremendous job against UConn in both the run and pass game last week. Connecticut had just .7 yards per rush, and Buffalo sacked the Huskies five times and forced four turnovers.
Senior defensive lineman Beau Bachtelle, who had two sacks against the Huskies, talked about how the defensive players fed off of each other’s success.
“One fun thing about the turnovers is one guy will get a turnover, then it’s like, ‘I want to get a turnover,’” Bachtelle said. “That’s what’s fun about defense, is that everyone is like competing against each other as they are competing against the other team.”
Eastern Michigan has struggled against a tough schedule to begin the season, including non-conference games against Penn State (3-1) and Rutgers (3-1) and opening its MAC season with Ball State (4-1, 1-0 MAC). The Eagles have been outscored 148-71 through the first four games, and their 17.8 points per game is 113th in the nation.
Quarterback Tyler Benz has as many interceptions as touchdowns (four). His favorite target has been tight end Tyreese Russell, whom Buffalo’s linebackers have to make adjustments to contain, Quinn said.
The Eagles turned the ball over four times in their 51-20 loss to Ball State last week. Quinn hopes his defense can continue to force opponents to turn the ball over, not only to electrify the ‘D’ but the offense as well.
“What [a turnover] does is, it energizes the kids,” Quinn said. “With the offensive guys, every second you are on the sidelines, there’s a chance you will get that ball back. That’s powerful stuff.”
Quinn described Eastern Michigan as a ball-control team on offense and a defense that can hurt you in third-down situations. The Eagles’ defense held Rutgers and Penn State to a combined 2 for 18 on third downs.
Senior running back Branden Oliver can tie Anthony Swan for the most career 100-yard games if he breaks the century mark Saturday.
Junior kicker Pat Clarke and senior linebacker Adam Redden are coming off MAC East Special Teams and Defensive Player of the Week awards, respectively. Clarke nailed both a 49- and 50-yard field goal last week. The 50-yarder tied a career long.
UB will continue its Tailgate Concert Series with two-time Grammy winner Kool & the Gang in the UB Stadium parking lot at 10 a.m. Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon, and the game will be on ESPN3.
Predictions: Buffalo (-13.5) vs. Eastern Michigan
Aaron Mansfield, @aaroncmansfield (2-2): Buffalo – Gone back and forth on this one, but I think the Bulls can cover the two-TD spread at home against a dreadful EMU squad.
Owen O’Brien, @owenobri (3-1):Buffalo – The Bulls’ D has allowed only 22 points during regulation of its last two games. Expect the dominance to continue as the offense puts up enough to beat the spread.
Ben Tarhan, @bentarhan (1-3):Buffalo – The offense looked good last week and Eastern Michigan’s defense is even worse than UConn’s. Look for a big offensive performance by the Bulls.
Jon Gagnon, @jgags15 (3-1):Eastern Michigan – The Bulls will win, but let’s take a step back from last week; they’re not going to consistently blow out teams this season.