The Buffalo Bulls looked like a team that could be serious contenders in the MAC East last week as they walloped Delaware State 48-10 at home. However, they take on the Temple Owls on the road this week where the hosts are favored by 5.5 points. This Saturday will be a huge test for UB as the team has shown signs of being really good under the guidance of Lance Leipold, but has struggled to put everything together and come away with big wins. Buffalo has a chance to make history as the program has never started the season 2-0 as an FBS program.
For the Bulls, Tyree Jackson might be the best quarterback in the MAC and certainly looked the part against Delaware State as he threw for six touchdowns in a little over two quarters of play and was named MAC East Offensive Player of the Week. The offense had balance too with 154 rushing yards while prolific receiver Anthony Johnson hauled in four catches for 57 yards and a score. However, the Bulls were not good on third down as they converted just two on 13 attempts.
Defensively, UB nearly gave up 200 rushing yards but put the clamps down on the passing game as it held Delaware State to 76 passing yards. On the plus side, the Bulls defense forced four turnovers, including Devon Russell’s first career interception. David Bowman and Brian Cavicante were all over the field as they each recorded 10+ tackles as the unit recorded seven TFLs.
As far as special teams go, kickoff and kickoff return looked sharp against Delaware State. Adam Mitcheson tallied six touchbacks on eight kickoff attempts, while Isaiah King proved to be an explosive returner with returns of 26 and 25 yards. The punt team has room for improvement as Evan Finegan only averaged 37.2 yards per punt.
Meanwhile, Temple is coming off of a heartbreaking 19-17 loss to the Villanova Wildcats last week and the humbling experience might make them a tough out this week. In the loss, quarterback Frank Nutile threw for 185 yards, two INTs, and a score while Branden Mack and Ventell Bryant combined for 12 receptions and 134 yards. The Owls only mustered 46 rushing yards, making them one-dimensional last week.
The defense was inconsistent in big spots as it forced two red zone stops but allowed three conversions on fourth down. Michael Dogbe and Quincy Roche each registered two TFLs and a sack while the latter had two blocks on special teams. As far as special teams go, Isaiah Wright is an electric return man with a 27-yard punt return and a 23-yard kickoff return. The kicking team can present some opportunities for UB as Aaron Boumerhi was unable to record a touchback on kickoff and missed a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
There will be opportunities for Buffalo to win on Saturday. Jackson should have some success in the air against Temple’s defense and UB should be able to move the ball on the ground. If the defense can stymie the Owls’ run game, the game will likely go down to the wire. Special teams will be the X-factor if Buffalo can hold the advantage in field position and limit explosive returns. Expect a score around 27-20 in favor of the Bulls.