The Western Michigan Broncos and Buffalo Bulls open up their 2021 MAC campaigns on Saturday, as the Broncos travel to UB Stadium in upstate New York for the first meeting between these two teams since the epic 71-68, seven overtime thriller in 2017. We may not see that level of offensive output in this particular match up, but this is still an intriguing game between two squads that view themselves as serious contenders in the MAC.
- Time and Date: 12:00 PM, Saturday, October 2, 2021
- Network: CBS Sports Network (a valid cable subscription is required for viewing.)
- Location: UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY
- Weather: 71 degrees and partly cloudy, with a brisk 16 MPH wind, per Weather.com.
- Spread/Total: Western Michigan -6.5, O/U 59
- All-time series: Western Michigan leads, 7-2
- Last Meeting: WMU escaped 7OT with an instant classic 71-68 win on Oct. 7, 2017.
Western Michigan Broncos
- Points Per Game: 27.2 (t-81st out of 130 FBS teams)
- Yards Per Game: 395.2 (71st)
- Points Per Game Allowed: 22.75 (t-63rd)
- Yards Per Game Allowed: 301.8 (31st)
- QB Kaleb Eleby: 75-of-121, 902 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions
- RB La’Darius Jefferson: 62 carries, 274 yards, six touchdowns
- WR Corey Crooms: 20 receptions, 334 yards, three touchdowns
- LB Corvin Moment: 21 tackles (14 solo), three tackles-for-loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one QB hit
- LB/S Zaire Barnes: 19 tackles (10 solo), two tackles-for-loss, two fumble recoveries
- DE Ali Fayad: 15 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks, four QB hits, one forced fumble
- Points Per Game: 31.5 (56th out of 130 FBS teams)
- Yards Per Game: 408.2 (63rd)
- Points Per Game Allowed: 24.25 (t-73rd)
- Yards Per Game Allowed: 375.2 (74th)
- QB Kyle Vantrease: 72-of-115 for 792 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; six carries, 33 yards, one touchdown; two punts for 130 yards, long punt of 81 yards
- RB Kevin Marks: 67 carries, 254 yards, three touchdowns
- RB Dylan McDuffie: 42 carries, 224 yards, four touchdowns
- WR Quian Williams: 24 receptions, 346 yards, one touchdown
- LB James Patterson: 36 tackles (13 solo), one tackle-for-loss, one sack, one interception
- LB Kadofi Wright: 24 tackles (12 solo), 4.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one pass break-up, one fumble forced
- DE Taylor Riggins: 17 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles
Western Michigan enters this game with a 3-1 record and full of confidence. The Broncos asserted themselves well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, knocking off ACC foe Pitt 44-41 and defending Mountain West champion San Jose State 23-3. The Broncos offense is clicking on all cylinders, and their defense seems to be finding their footing as well.
QB Kaleb Eleby leads the MAC in passing yards and TD’s, while also completing 62.5% of his passes. The Bulls secondary will have their hands full stopping Eleby and his receiving trio of Skyy Moore, Corey Crooms, and Jaylen Hall. Buffalo has yet to face an offense that can move the ball through the air like the Broncos can.
Speaking of the Bulls, they enter this game with a 2-2 record and coming off of a very up and down performance against Old Dominion last week. Buffalo raced out to a 35-7 halftime lead off the back of a blocked field goal return for a touchdown and a scoop and score from their defense. Old Dominion outscored the Bulls 27-0 after the break, and Buffalo only escaped with a 35-34 victory after the Monarchs missed an extra point after scoring the supposed tying touchdown.
Though Buffalo changed leadership in the offseason, new head coach Maurice Linguist seems to have kept the Bulls offensive identity in tact from the Lance Leipold era, as Buffalo continues to pound the ball and looks to establish the run on offense. Jarret Patterson is gone, but Kevin Marks, Jr. is more than capable as a lead back and is joined in the backfield by Ron Cook, Jr and Dylan McDuffie. The Bulls will look to lean on the run game in this one and try to keep the ball out of the hands of Western Michigan’s high powered offense.
It should be a good one at UB Stadium on Saturday, as this game represents a bit of a clash of styles. Whoever comes out on top will have a leg up on getting to Ford Field as we move deeper into conference play.