A tale of two teams. That's what we got from the Buffalo Bulls between Week 1 and Week 2. In Week 1 the Bulls went into Columbus and put up a valiant effort against the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes. Week 2 saw those same Bulls give up 56 points...in the first half. No, this wasn't a basketball game. Buffalo (0-2) lost to No. 23 Baylor (2-0) 70-13 Saturday, making every MAC fan scratch their head. How the hell can this be the same team?
Well, let's be fair to the Bulls. Baylor doesn't really play football. The Bears style of play is more akin to a fast break basketball offense on the gridiron. I don't mean that as an offensive remark to Baylor, clearly it works. It's just different.
Buffalo struggled to keep up with a team that made Oregon look slow. Baylor was rattling off plays every 10-15 seconds, allowing them to put up 56 points in the first half, despite possessing the ball for just 11 minutes that half. All the scoring by Baylor dug Buffalo's offense into a big hole, that it couldn't climb out of.
The Bulls struck first on a bit of trickery. Alex Nuetz caught a 56-yard flea-flicker and then Brandon Oliver pounded the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown to put them up 7-0. Less than a minute later that lead was gone. Joe Licata hooked up with Neutz on a 4-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 21-13 Baylor with 2:11 left in the first quarter. Then things got really ugly. Baylor scored again a minute later, then score on two consecutive offensive drives to open the second quarter. That's when the Bears defense decided to get in on the fun.
Licata had the Bulls within striking distance with just over six minutes left in the half, when he was sacked and fumbled the ball. Bears linebacker Bryce Hager ran the fumble back 91-yards for another score. A few minutes later Lache Seastrunk sprinted past the Bulls defense on a 33-yard touchdown run, his third of the half, putting the score at 56-13 Baylor with 4:12 left in the half.
The Bears backups added two more scores in the second half to bring the final score to 70-13.
During Baylor's offensive assault Buffalo star linebacker Khalil Mack was a non-factor finishing with just four tackles on the day. But he wasn't the only member of the Bulls defense who struggled. To add some perspective as to how effective Baylor's offense was here's a look at some of the stat lines:
- Quarterback Bryce Petty: 13-of-16, 338 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Running back Lache Seastrunk: 17 carries, 150 yards, 3 touchdowns
- Running back Shock Linwood: 12 carries, 76 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Wide receiver Tevin Reese: 4 receptions, 130 yards, 1 touchdown
- Wide receiver Antwan Goodley: 4 receptions, 124 yards, 1 touchdown
Buffalo's defense allowed...no that's not fair, the Bears put up 781 total yards on offense, averaging just under 10 yards-per-play.
Not everything was bad for the Bulls,. Nuetz moved further up Buffalo record books after catching 6 passes for 197 yards and adding a touchdown. Licata looked good (not great) again. He finished the game with 214 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but also coughed up that fumble in the second quarter.
It was a a rough game sure, but is it time to write off the Bulls Week 1 performance as a fluke? I don't think so. Buffalo is just the first of many FBS teams that will give up video-game like numbers to that Bears offense, meanwhile Buffalo has already played the toughest stretch of its schedule, and came out alive, albeit with a bruised ego. This will likely provide a huge fire under that Bulls defense which prides itself on being the best unit on the team.
I'dd hate to be Stony Brook right now, because Licata, Mack and the rest of that Buffalo team is going to be venting next Saturday.