The Edge: Buffalo vs. Rutgers
A position-to-position breakdown of football’s next game
The Bulls (3-0, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) are still undefeated heading into its clash with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) this Saturday. It is a story of different programs as the Scarlet Knights are having one of its worst season starts in the past decade. After the Scarlet Knights lost 55-14 to the Kansas Jayhawks (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) this past Saturday, the Bulls seem primed to earn another win over a big conference team.
Junior quarterback Tyree Jackson looked sensational in his first three starts and this week should be no different. Coming off a career performance against the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-1, 0-1 MAC) where he threw for 325 yards going 21-of-26. With Rutgers’ recent back-to-back losses, Jackson seems ready to lead the Bulls offense to another 30 plus point game. Rutgers has six quarterbacks on roster, but with recent struggles, it remains unclear who will start for the Buffalo game.
Running back - Bulls
Buffalo may not be known for a strong run game but recent performances have made the position shine. Junior Emmanuel Reed and redshirt freshman Kevin Marks have been a force of a duo rushing this season. Despite both failing to rush for over 100 yards last game, the Scarlet Knights’ defensive line is not the same threat as the Eagles were. Expect one of them to rush well over a hundred against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have been playing sophomore Raheem Blackshear, who rushed for 102 yards and averaged 5.4 per carry against Kansas. He will be Rutgers’ best offensive weapon in the away game Saturday.
Receivers - Bulls
If one category is handily won by Buffalo, it is receivers. Senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson continues his strong year coming off six receptions and 74 yards in the Eastern game. That same day, junior K.J. Osborn had a career performance, receiving for 188 yards and three touchdowns. It was a career high for Osborn in yards and touchdowns for a single game. Between the two players, Jackson should have multiple reliable options downfield against Rutgers. Not a single Rutgers receiver earned more than 50 yards in the game against Kansas.
Coaches - Bulls
Head coach Lance Leipold filled the Bulls roster with talent on both ends of the ball. He has built a team that works for his high-offense style he used to dominate before joining Division I. He has proven to make the right calls in close games these past two weeks and is a proven leader at the coaching end of the game. Rutgers head coach Chris Ash will most likely be out of a job within the ensuing weeks. Rutgers has lost much of its prestige as a once great force in college football and now struggles to find a win against a viable opponent. Despite his supporters, many have put the blame on Ash. If he cannot pick up a win against a surging Buffalo team, his job will be in deep trouble.
Defense - Bulls
This is the hardest position to judge as the Rutgers defense has taken on top NCAA offenses the past two weeks. The Bulls have looked solid on defense but Buffalo is still an offensive focused team. Look for senior linebacker Khalil Hodge to be the difference maker in the backfield and line. Despite some solid performances, Hodge has yet to have a hallmark performance this season. Rutgers will need to find a spark of defense if they hope to slow down the Bulls. The Knights have talent, yet none of it has shined since its season opener on defense. The edge goes to then more consistent Bulls defense.
The away game against Rutgers is on Sept. 22, with a start time of 12 p.m.
Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at Thomas.Zafonte@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @Thomas_Spectrum