The Edge: Buffalo vs. Miami (OH)

A position-to-position breakdown for football’s key conference matchup

the-edge

Buffalo football is looking strong as the Bulls remain undefeated in the Mid-American Conference. 

The Bulls will look for their fourth-straight win when they take on the Miami (OH) RedHawks in one of Buffalo’s last home games Oct. 30. The Bulls (7-1, 4-0 MAC) are coming off a comeback 31-17 win over the Toledo Rockets (3-4, 1-2 MAC) this past weekend. Buffalo beat one of the MAC’s best offenses in Toledo. The RedHawks (3-5, 3-1 MAC) come in off a 31-30 nail-biter loss to the Army Black Knights (5-2) Saturday. With Miami giving the team-to-beat Bulls a run for its money, don’t expect Buffalo to take Miami lightly. With the RedHawks currently second in the East Division, this will be the Bulls’ chance to secure the division with a win.

Quarterback- Pick’em

Junior Tyree Jackson may not have had his best game against Toledo, but he still threw for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even with Jackson throwing 3 picks in the game, he still had a 54 percent completion rate. Jackson is quickly approaching 2,000 passing yards this season, currently having 1,869 yards and 20 touchdowns over the past eight games. Jackson will need to do his best work when the dangerous RedHawks passing unit comes to town. RedHawks’ redshirt senior Gus Ragland has been consistent in the pocket all season, coming in off 329 yards and 4 touchdowns passing performance against Army. With Ragland having 1,769 yards passing already this season, Jackson will be up against one of the MAC’s best for the second-straight game.

Running Backs- Bulls

The key advantage for the Bulls this week is the run game. With freshman Jaret Patterson and redshirt freshman Kevin Marks having great debut seasons, they have a chance to exploit the RedHawks’ biggest weakness on defense. The RedHawks are a pass-first team when their run game can be stopped. If the Bulls can get some early stops, expect the RedHawks to pass often as the Bulls switch between both their offensive weapons.

Receivers- Pick’em

The Bulls have a deep receiving group when senior Anthony Johnson is healthy, giving Jackson multiple high-level passing options. The Bulls’ biggest problem against the RedHawks is that Miami has depth at the receiving spot, too. Miami has a four-player passing unit lead by redshirt sophomore Jack Sorenson who can earn big gains on any team in the MAC. What makes Miami’s passing unit so dangerous is that Ragland distributes the ball equally amongst his unit. The Bulls will have to be alert in the backfield if they want to stop Miami from scoring quickly. With both receiving groups having strong numbers, there is no clear advantage at the spot.

Coaches- Bulls

Miami head coach Chuck Martin has been solid in his brief tenure at the position since 2014. Martin has turned the RedHawks into a consistent MAC team year-in and year-out. Head coach Lance Leipold has turned the Bulls from last in the MAC to the conference powerhouse this season and it only took him three seasons. I’m not saying that the amount of time it takes to make a good football team is the measure of a coach, but the numbers don’t lie. Expect Leipold to continue his strong coaching year while making the proper adjustments the team needs come game time.

Defense- Bulls

The Toledo game was a highlight performance for the defense, holding a strong offensive team to no points in the second half. The RedHawks have had trouble against strong offensive teams, with the Bulls touting a strong pass and run attack for the Miami game. The Buffalo defense is first in the MAC right now and has the momentum and skill to send another message with its performance this week. If the Bulls can force third-down stops early, it may be all Buffalo needs to take an early lead and run with it.

Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at: thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com & @Thomas_Spectrum