The Edge: Buffalo vs. Central Michigan

A position-to-position breakdown for the second conference game of the season

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UB football is no longer undefeated, losing its first game to the Army Black Knights 42-13 this past Saturday. Buffalo will now look to bounce back this week when the team heads to Mount Pleasant, Michigan to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas. 

This marks the Bulls (4-1, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) first road conference game of the season, having beaten the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-3, 0-2 MAC) 35-28 on Sept. 15.  The Bulls have the talent to have a quick turnaround. If the Bulls win on Saturday, they will have established the team as one of the best in the MAC this season.

Quarterback- Bulls

If Buffalo has one positive take away from the Army game at UB Stadium, it was the continued consistency from junior Tyree Jackson and the offensive line. Though Jackson had a completion rate of 42 percent, he still threw no interceptions . The offensive line continued to not allow a single sack being, with Jackson not being sacked all season. Against a Chippewas (1-4, 0-1 MAC) team that has struggled against strong offensive units this season, expect the Bulls’ passing game to be much more effective this week. Chippewas junior Tommy Lazzaro has looked solid in his last three outings, but there is no indication that Central Michigan will be able to keep up with the Bulls.

Running Backs- Pick’ em

Buffalo’s rushing game went from looking at its best this season to its worst in the Army game. Just one week after freshman Jaret Patterson put up 104 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-4, 0-2 Big Ten), he would only have 2 carries and 3 yards against the Army Black Knights. Junior Emmanuel Reed had 63 yards off 16 carries against Army and he has yet to have an over 100-yard game this season. The Chippewas don’t fair much better with not a single player rushing for more than 75 yards in their last three games. If a Buffalo back has a hot game on Saturday, the Bulls could have the edge in rushing. Though, given how Buffalo looked on rushing defense in the Army game, the Chippewas run game might put up some of their best numbers this season.

Receivers- Bulls

The clear advantage the Bulls have is in the receiving corps. The biggest obstacle for Buffalo receiving is the absence of senior Anthony Johnson. Johnson has been reported as questionable for the Central game after being sorely missed against Army. Johnson has 308 yards and 3 touchdowns in only four games this season. Still the Bulls will have junior K.J. Osborn and freshman Charlie Jones who are both having stronger games as the season progresses. The Chippewas have struggled to find a consistent receiver.

Coaches- Bulls 

Creative super genius Lance Leipold will lead the Bulls this week after being screwed by referees early in the Army game. Leipold has been able to pass by defensive formations this season but the Army game was the first exception of the year. Leipold will have another solid defense against Central Michigan, but should find more luck in the backfield. If Leipold can get a hotstart passing, the Chippewas offense won’t be able to keep up. Chippewas head coach John Bonamego has brought the team to new heights in his three years as coach, and this does appear to be another strong season for him. Bonamego has not been able to find a reliable option this season and that will be a bigger problem for Bonamego then the injuries facing Leipold.

Defense- Chippewas

If Central Michigan has one attribute that should raise concern for Bulls fans, it’s the defense. Army showed what could happen to Buffalo when its momentum on offense gets halted. Central has let up more than 30 points three time this season to Big Conference teams. If the Bulls show the same intensity and talent they did against Rutgers, the team can put up big numbers against Central. Still the Chippewas have been solid on pass defense too, something the Bulls need to put up big numbers offensively. If Central can dial it in on the backfield, then it could be another long day for the Bulls.

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