Who has the edge? UB Bulls vs. Miami Ohio
Buffalo takes on RedHawks looking to get back to .500
The football team (3-4, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) is playing just four days after picking up its first conference victory on Saturday. The Bulls will look to win back-to-back games for the first time all season and get back to .500 on the road against Miami Ohio (1-7, 0-4 MAC).
The Spectrum has the scouting report for who has the edge at each position.
Surprisingly, this has to be one of the first times all season the Bulls have the quarterback advantage in back-to-back weeks.
Senior Joe Licata is coming off an impressive game against Ohio, leading the Bulls to two offensive scoring drives, finishing with a rare rushing touchdown and zero turnovers. Another performance like that should get the job done on Thursday.
As for the RedHawks, they replaced senior Drew Kummer with freshman Billy Bahl a few weeks ago. But neither have had much success, as both are completing fewer than 50 percent of their passes. Bahl has 10 interceptions to just two touchdown passes.
Running back: Buffalo
Even with senior Anthone Taylor’s pending status with an ankle injury, the Bulls are entering the game with the best running back. Junior running back Jordan Johnson is coming off the best game of his career, registering career highs in carries (28), yards (147) and touchdowns (2).
Meanwhile Miami Ohio has an interesting rushing attack. Running back Alonzo Smith leads the team in rushing, but second is freshman quarterback Gus Ragland. Ragland has 5.6 yards per carry on 40 carries this season. He’s thrown 15 passes.
If Taylor is available to play, the Bulls will have a significant advantage. Even if he doesn’t, Johnson should have another huge day.
Wide receivers and tight ends: Buffalo
The Bulls will have the better weapons on the field. Quantity beats quality here.
Miami Ohio has several weapons, but none have impressed statistically. Wide receivers Sam Martin (22 catches, 413 yards and one touchdown) and Rokeem Williams (18 catches, 266 yards and one touchdown) are both fine receivers. Tight end Ryan Smith has 13 catches and three scores on the year.
They’ve proven they can be useful.
But the Bulls have the better group of receivers in talent and in numbers. Senior Ron Willoughby had a quiet game against Ohio, but could rebound against the RedHawks. Senior Marcus McGill had eight catches for 81 yards – by far his best game of the season – and could continue his recent string of success. This could also be a big game for senior tight end Matt Weiser, who’s in the midst of a breakout season.
Offensive Line: Buffalo
It was another solid week for Buffalo’s offensive line against Ohio. The five-man unit kept Licata upright in harsh weather conditions and opened holes for the running game. The line could finally be solidifying after multiple question marks.
Miami Ohio has allowed 18 sacks on the season, compared to Buffalo’s 11. If the Bulls are looking to repeat last Saturday’s defensive success that consisted of four sacks and six tackles for losses, the RedHawk’s O-line is a perfect unit to do it on.
Defensive line: Buffalo
The Buffalo defensive line is looking to repeat last week’s feat.
It registered four sacks and got several tackles for losses, making Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick work for every yard gained. This week, they should be looking for the same against a poor Miami Ohio offensive line.
On the outside, freshmen defensive ends Chris Ford and Charles Harris and sophomore Demone Harris are continuing to develop with more playing time and another game against an offensive line they can take advantage of will only help moving forward.
Miami Ohio’s linebackers aren’t slouches at all.
Kent Kern is second in the MAC in tackles for losses with 10 to go with his 66 tackles on the season. Paul Moses has 54 tackles and three sacks on the year. The duo has been good at both coverage and getting into the backfield this season.
The Buffalo linebackers, however, enter this game hot.
Senior Nick Giblo recorded a career-high 15 tackles against Ohio last week and senior Okezie Alozie registered 1.5 tackles for losses and the first two interceptions of his career – including returning one for a touchdown. All junior Brandon Berry did last week is rack up with 13 tackles of his own, a new personal high.
The Buffalo linebacking core is on a run and I don’t see them slowing down against the RedHawks.
While Boise Ross has had a breakout season in his own right, it’s sophomore safety Ryan Williamson that continues to come up in big spots. After having just 10 tackles as a freshman last year, Williamson has 39 tackles and two interceptions this season, including a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown last week.
The most notable defensive back for Miami Ohio is senior cornerback Brison Burris, who has 59 tackles, two tackles for losses and one interception on the season.
Special teams: Buffalo
Buffalo’s special teams have been solid, outside of a blocked punt for a safety against Central Michigan. Freshman kicker Adam Mitcheson has gone 21-of-23 on extra points this season and 9-of-12 on field goals. Meanwhile, senior punter Tyler Grassman has 35 punts with 11 falling inside the 20-yard line.
Miami Ohio has kicker Kaleb Patterson and he’s completed 5-of-7 field goals on the year and 9-of-11 on PAT kicks on the season. Punter Christian Koch has punting 58 times in eight games, with 12 landing inside the 20-yard line.
Both kickers and punters are on par with each other, but Buffalo gets the slight edge for its all-around special teams play.
Both head coaches have solid resumes.
Miami Ohio’s Chuck Martin has quite the resume. He was the head coach at Grand Valley State from 2004-09, finishing with two Division-II championships and a 74-7 record as head coach. Then, he moved on to Notre Dame, where he was the offensive coordinator of the 2013 Notre Dame team that made it to the National Championship matchup against Alabama.
We all know Bulls head coach Lance Leipold’s record on the Division-III level and his accolades.
Both have yet to have much success early on in their Division-I tenures in the MAC, so right now it’s too close to call and we will give these coaching giants a tie.