The Ohio Bobcats and Buffalo Bulls battled to overtime in a thriller where the Bobcats won 21-20. Here are some things we learned.
1. Ohio’s rushing defense improved during the bye week:
The obvious question coming into the Buffalo game was how Ohio’s defense would fare against Buffalo’s rushing offense. Buffalo ranked 18th in the FBS in rushing yards per game coming into the game vs Ohio. Also, prior to the Buffalo game, Ohio had struggled to consistently maintain gap integrity and make tackles against some of the FBS’ better rushing attacks (Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are ranked 1st in the FBS in total yards rushing and Marshall Thundering Herd 36th).
The answer turned out to be that Ohio’s run defense dramatically improved vs Buffalo. Ohio held a very good Buffalo rushing game to 60 yards below its season average (181 yards vs 241 yards) and one-half yard per carry below its season average (4.2 vs 4.7).
Ohio rushing defense also showed significant statistical improvement when compared with its performance in games before Buffalo. Before the Buffalo game, Ohio allowed 5.5 yards per rush but only allowed 4.2 yards per rush vs Buffalo.
Ohio’s defense eliminated big rushing plays. Against Buffalo, the longest rush Ohio was allowed was 14 yards. Compare that with previous games where Ohio allowed rushes of 36, 36, 33, 26,22, and 20 yards.
2. Buffalo’s QB Kyle Vantrease played well in a dual role:
Kyle Vantrease was asked to assume a rare dual role of quarterback and punter versus Ohio and performed well.
Vantrease started for the first time at QB for the Bulls in 2019 and managed the game well, making few, if any, ill-advised throws. Vantrease also handled the pressure well and appeared composed throughout the contest.
He passed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 19 yards and a touchdown.
He also contributed three punts for a 36.7 yard average.
3. Too early for Halloween:
Halloween isn’t until October 31st but there were some strange things afoot in Buffalo’s stadium yesterday which made me think Halloween came early.
Overall, three field goals and an extra point were missed.
Ohio’s Louie Zervos kicked a 53-yard field goal attempt into the wind, which, on first sight, looked like it would soar through the uprights.
As the kick progressed the ball was rapidly pushed down until it hit the crossbar, bouncing high into the air and landing back in the field of play-no good.
Buffalo’s Jackson Baltar also was unable to find the mark, missing two field goal attempts and an extra point.
4. Hard Running:
All the players from both teams battled hard to win, knowing this was a game with significant MAC East implications.
But what stood out to me was the physicality and toughness of the running backs in this one.
Ohio’s offense did a great job rushing the football for 4.0 yards per carry on 47 attempts against a Buffalo defense that came into the game ranked 17th in the FBS in rushing yards per carry allowed with 2.75 yards.
Ohio’s freshman O’Shaan Allison ran with determination, finishing with a career high in rushing yards in a game with 96. Allison also scored his first career rushing touchdown as a Bobcat, finishing with two on the day.
Allison saved his best for last.
Allison carried the ball on all of Ohio’s overtime plays, five straight runs, capping the drive with a five-yard touchdown run.
Buffalo’s RB Kevin Marks was also impressive, running with a determined, physical style. Marks ended the contest with 112 yards on 22 carries.
5. Is Buffalo’s QB competition renewed?
Buffalo named QB Matt Myers the starter after a camp battle with other Buffalo quarterbacks including Kyle Vantrease.
Buffalo’s passing game had its most productive day in the last few weeks under Vantrease so its natural to wonder if the QB position might change hands when Myers returns from injury. Head coach Lance Leipold commented at the end of the QB battle in camp that either Vantrease or Myers were capable of leading the team.
The Bulls passing game produced the following stat line under Myers vs Miami and Temple: 13-31 completions, 121 yards, one touchdowns, three interceptions.
Yesterday, Buffalo passed for 179 yards, one touchdown, no interception.
Ohio and Buffalo have four of the best safeties in the MAC and this article couldn’t end without mentioning that. Buffalo’s Joey Banks and Tyrone Hill combined for 24 tackles with Banks making a huge tackle for loss inside Buffalo’s five yard line.
Ohio’s Javon Hagan and Jarren Hampton combined for 15 tackles and a fumble recovery by Hagan on the Ohio 22 yard line, stopping a promising Buffalo 3rd-quarter drive.