Some of you may have noticed we don’t always include the Buffalo Bulls, especially the football team, when we do a lot of these lists. There are two reasons, really. One, they are the only MAC team with their own SB Nation site, Bull Run. We are confident in their abilities to bring you all things Bulls. The other reason is that we are snobs, and they are the new kids. They also really don’t fit the regional footprint. Well, 20 years is long enough, so welcome to the Mid-American Conference! I cannot speak for all my colleagues, but I am going to start treating the Bulls like any other team. But just say MAC conference one time and you are gone.
Now on to predicting the Bulls football season. They are an exciting team and this should be an exciting year. Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson return to form one of the best QB/WR combos in the MAC. The potential is there for this to be one of the better ones in the country, with Johnson already an Athlon preseason All-American. Khalil Hodge also made their cut. (You can read the whole list here. Spoiler, the only other MAC to make the cut also had two players, NIU.)
On the offensive side, they potentially have a nice two-headed monster with Emmanuel Reed and Jonathan Hawkins returning. Tyler Maybry is a nice target at tight end, and the offensive line returns quite a bit of talent.
In 2017 the defense struggled against the run, and losing Ryan Williamson to graduation wont help, but having a player with the skill let of Hodge certainly does. Their defense doesn’t give up a lot of big plays, and does a good job of keeping teams from scoring. If they can manage to knock down the nearly 200 per game rushing yards, they could be something special.
How special? Let’s just go ahead and predict every game for the 2018 season.
Sept. 1st, Delaware State Hornets
I expect Buffalo to win this one.
Buffalo 45, Delaware State 10.
Sept. 8th, @Temple Owls
This should be a close contest between good group of 5 squads. Why I personally have this game circled on my calendar is because Temple, and their conference brethren, seem to think they are better than the MAC and call themselves a power conference. I don’t like it when MAC schools lose to the Sun Belt, but I REALLY don’t like it when they lost to a self appointed “Power 6” school. This should be a good game, but for that reason alone, I am going to “give” Buffalo the win.
Buffalo 35, Temple 28.
Sept 15th, Eastern Michigan Eagles
In just the third game of the season, the Bulls face a potential MAC West contender, Eastern Michigan. I know that sounds a little weird to say, but I am a firm believer in what Chris Creighton is doing. I thought Leipold was on his way out of town, but the job he did last season now has me a believer. As bizarre as it may seem, this has the potential to be a preview of the MAC championship game. I think big plays from Johnson, and home field advantage, are the difference maker.
Buffalo 31, EMU 21.
Sept. 22nd, @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Chris Ash has done great things with Rutgers back seven. However, the rest of the team needs a lot of work. The Buffalo defense should be able to key on the run, so I am confident the defense will keep the Scarlet Knights in the 20s, the problem is that Johnson and company might find it tough to get open, so it will be exceptionally important for Buffalo to run the football. Given the ability of the two backs, plus the talent on the offensive line, I think the Bulls can knock off a Big Ten team, if we really consider Rutgers a Big Ten team. (We don’t.)
Buffalo 34, Rutgers 28.
Sept. 29th, Army Black Knights
This is a scary game for the Bulls. Their bend don’t break defense will be going against the ultimate “We don’t care about big plays” offense. The Bulls might be on a bit of a let down after a competitive game against a Power 5 school, and Army has been surprisingly good recently. However, one benefit the Bulls have, besides getting this game at home, is that the Black Knights will have just played Oklahoma. For that reason, I am going to give Buffalo the win.
Buffalo 28, Army 24.
Oct. 6th, @ Central Michigan Chippewas
While I don’t think the Chippewas are going to be a particularly awful football team, I do believe this will be a tough match-up for Central Michigan. I look for Buffalo to take away the big plays when CMU has the ball, and I fully expect Buffalo’s offense to score early and often.
Buffalo 41, CMU 21.
Oct. 13th, Akron Zips
Rarely do I guarantee a win, but if I were going to, it would be when Night Ranger is in the house.
Buffalo 44, Akron 28.
Oct. 20th, @ Toledo Rockets
It is much harder to predict each game in a season than it is to give a win total. I know Buffalo is a good team, but having them 7-0 at this point in the season is a bit of a stretch. I am confident the Bulls have the ability to win each of the 8 games they open their schedule with. However, it is highly unlikely, so for that reason, and the fact that it is on the road, and if a team can gash a bend, don’t break defense, it’s the Rocket’s receiving group, I am giving the nod to the Rockets.
Toledo 35, Buffalo 28.
Oct. 30th, Miami RedHawks
If the Bulls do lose that game, or even if they don’t, they will have extra time to prepare for Miami. This will be a close game, and one big play by Johnson will be the deciding factor. Ok, maybe my crystal ball isn’t quite that accurate, but I do believe the Bulls will pull out the win.
Buffalo 21, Miami 20.
Nov. 6th, Kent State Golden Flashes
In their second Tuesday MACtion game in consecutive weeks, the Bulls will make this one much less exciting, at least for the opposing team.
Bulls 48, Kent 10.
Nov. 14th, @ Ohio Bobcats
If Buffalo really is sitting at 9-1 going into the game, there will be talk of scenarios on how the Bulls are the G5 New Year’s Day 6 selection. If they manage to be 10-0, there will be talk of national rankings and who knows what else? They might have several losses. I really don’t think it will matter which scenario plays out, I have Ohio winning this game. The Bobcats can run the football, and play good defense. This will be a tough match-up for the Bulls.
Ohio 28, Buffalo 21.
Nov. 23rd, @ Bowling Green Falcons
An inconsistent quarterback can really hate a defense that doesn’t give up big plays. For this reason, I have the Bulls bouncing back and winning this game.
Buffalo 31, Bowling Green 21.
There you have it, the Bulls will finish 10-2. Of course this predictor doesn’t take into account weather, injuries, and all that jazz. As I wrote earlier, it is much harder to predict individual games than a win total, and if I were going to give a Bulls win total prediction on the season, it would be 8 or 9. Still a good season, and reason to be optimistic in Buffalo.