UB Bulls vs. Central Michigan: Who has the edge?

The Spectrum's scouting report for each position

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The Buffalo football team (2-3, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) will make a rare trip to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan on Saturday to continue MAC play against Central Michigan (2-4, 1-1 MAC). Both teams have weapons that can easily make or break the game for each side.

But who will those players be? Who has the edge at each position? The Spectrum broke it down.

Quarterbacks: Central Michigan

Both Buffalo senior Joe Licata and the Chippewas’ Cooper Rush play a similar game – a high passing volume with a lot of touchdowns. But the edge goes to Rush because of his recent play and ability in the running game.

Licata hasn’t played up to his standards in the past couple of weeks while Rush just put up a 321-yard passing day with four touchdown passes in a loss last week. Rush also possesses the ability to scramble. He can very well expose the Buffalo ‘D’ and possibly break off a big run at some point, like he did last week with a 26-yard run.

Running backs: Buffalo

There aren’t many rushing attacks in the MAC that can mimic the duo of senior Anthone Taylor and junior Jordan Johnson and it likely won’t change this week. Taylor ranks third in the conference in rushing yards per game. Johnson has been a more than solid No. 2 with 56.4 yards per game and he’s been a key part of Buffalo’s backfield.

The Chippewas didn’t have a runner eclipse 55 yards rushing last week in their backfield-by-committee. It may be Central Michigan’s weakest spot on offense, and it might show again on Saturday against the Bulls.

Wide receivers and tight ends: Central Michigan

Each team has a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver and a Mackey Award watch list tight end. However, it’s Central Michigan’s depth at the skill positions that gives them the edge.

Central Michigan’s Jesse Kroll leads the Chippewas with 389 receiving yards. Following the leading wide-out, there are four receivers that already eclipsed 200 receiving yards. Leading the way for Central Michigan is James McCord, a nationally acclaimed tight end, who already has 373 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

Buffalo senior tight end Matt Weiser, Buffalo’s Mackey Award contender, has been exceptional as well, but it will not make a difference in our estimation.

Nod goes to the Chippewas.

Offensive line: Buffalo

With none of Central Michigan’s top-3 rushers averaging more than 4 yards per carry and with the Chippewas giving up four more sacks than the Bulls this season, we give our edge to Buffalo.

Defensive line: Buffalo

The Bulls’ D-line would have would have lost to just about any other MAC team’s line.

The Chippewa defensive line is one of the worst units on the team. They rank second-to-last in the conference with five sacks, all of which come from the linebackers and secondary. Central Michigan allows 165 rushing yards per game, but is coming off allowing 215 yards to Western Michigan last week.

Buffalo juniors defensive tackles Brandon Crawford and Max are beginning to ease into the position and should contribute on a weekly basis from this point on.

Linebackers: Buffalo

There really is no slowing down the core that Buffalo put together this season.

Juniors Brandon Berry and Okezie Alozie, along with senior Nick Gilbo began, to heat up at Florida Atlantic and haven’t slowed down.

All three respectively lead the team in tackles and, combined, make up more than half of Buffalo’s tackles for losses. They are the heart and soul of the improving defense and should be ready to go after a week hiatus from the field.

Secondary: Central Michigan

In our opinion, junior cornerback Boise Ross will be the best defensive player on the field. But he’s not part of the best unit.

Granted, Buffalo’s secondary attack was the only team to keep Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson to less than 400 yards two weeks ago. But Central Michigan ranks second in the conference in pass defense, as it allows only 175.2 passing yards per game. The matchup to watch on Saturday will be Weiser vs. the secondary.

Special teams: Buffalo

Senior punter Corbin Grassman and freshman placekicker Adam Mitcheson have been on a tear lately. Mitcheson hasn’t missed a kick in two weeks and is 5-for-5 in that stretch. Grassman has constantly pinned opponents within the 20-yard line and has created a long field for the Buffalo opponents.

Central Michigan also has a talented special teams core, but ultimately, it was Buffalo’s duo that was more intriguing.

Coaching: Central Michigan

There’s no arguing a 27-year coaching resume.

The Chippewas’ new head coach John Bonamego has made strides around the coaching circuit, including stints in the NFL. I’ve said it before – an experienced coach will always prevail over a newcomer.

Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold had arguably his worst day as a coach two weeks ago after poor clock management and questionable play calling eventually cost the Bulls the game.

Leipold might play a more reserved game this week, but that can’t be the case. Buffalo is a high-risk, high-reward type of team with explosive playmakers. In order to beat Central Michigan, it has to be the better team. Playing a reserved game will not be a winning recipe.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.