After a somewhat inexplicable loss at Ohio last week, the Buffalo Bulls (9-2, 6-1 MAC) need to win this week against the Bowling Green Falcons (3-8, 2-5 MAC) or have Ohio lose against Akron in order to clinch the MAC East. A loss by UB and an Ohio win would mean that Miami would represent the MAC East in Detroit. BG is playing good football as of late with two consecutive wins so this will not be an easy game for Buffalo.
The Falcons’ recent success can be attributed to how well they’ve been able to run the ball. BG has ran for 399 yards in the last two games as Andrew Clair has emerged as a productive back in this league with 194 of those yards. Scott Miller has been a nice complement to Clair in the passing game with 13 catches for 173 yards against Central Michigan and Akron. The defense is playing extremely well at the right time as it has allowed less than 150 yards passing and 80 yards rushing in back-to-back games.
Meanwhile, Buffalo needs to correct some things if it wants to represent the East division in the MAC title game and represent it well. Against Ohio, Tyree Jackson was not efficient as he went 9-21 for 116 yards and two interceptions while the Bulls had to get away from a running game that averaged 7.1 yards per rush. Defensively, the Bobcats did what they wanted to as they rushed for 437 yards (7.8 yards per rush) and passed for 209 yards (7.7 yards per attempt) while converting 13-17 third and fourth downs. Khalil Hodge was a lone bright spot with 11 tackles and an interception.
Both teams are fairly even as far as special teams are concerned. Buffalo has a slight advantage in the return game (19.8 yards per kickoff return and 9.9 yards per punt return in MAC play) but Bowling Green has been pretty solid in coverage (37 net yards per punt and 40.7 net yards per kickoff) so it should be fun to watch this battle of strength versus strength. If the game comes down to field goals, close your eyes because the teams have seven misses in conference play alone (UB 6-9, BG 4-8).
This is a game that Buffalo absolutely should win because of the talent disparity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if BG managed to pull of the upset. If the Falcons are able to contain the run and force the Bulls to be one-dimensional, Buffalo’s going to have some problems in this game. BG likes to push the tempo on offense and Ohio had a lot of success with that against UB. Clair needs to have a big day on the ground to keep BG’s offense balanced and Jarret Doege needs to play mistake-free football. I don’t expect UB to play poorly in consecutive weeks, but you never know what you’re going to get in this league. Buffalo proves to be too much in a 27-17 contest.