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2022 MAC Football Week 9 Game Preview: Buffalo Bulls at Ohio Bobcats

Weeknight #MACtion’s opening night features a battle for first place in the MAC East.

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Coastal Carolina
RB Ron Cook Jr. and the Buffalo offense in action against Coastal Carolina earlier this year
David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo (5-3, 4-0 MAC East) heads to Athens to take on Ohio (5-3, 3-1 MAC East) with the winner leaving Peden Stadium the division leader with tiebreaker advantage in a contentious MAC East race.

Both squads come into the game with significant momentum, as Buffalo has won five straight games, knocking off MAC West leader Toledo and MAC East contender Bowling Green in the last three weeks.

Ohio has also been on a long winning streak, with three-in-a-row against Akron, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois.

We take a look at how squads stack up, but first (as always) some game notes:


  • Time and Date: Tuesday November 1, 2022 at 7:30 PM ET
  • Networks: ESPN2
  • Radio/Streaming: Both teams can be heard via the Varsity Network App.
  • Location: Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio
  • Weather at Kickoff: Cloudy, 50 degrees. 9% chance of rain. Wind NW at 1 MPH per
  • Spread/Total: Buffalo is a 1.5 point favorite, per
  • Last Meeting: October 16, 2021, Buffalo over Ohio 27-26

Getting to know the Buffalo Bulls


Offensive Average Per Game and MAC Ranking

  • Passing Yards: 242 (5th)
  • Rushing Yards: 157 (4th)
  • Points: 31 (3rd)

Defensive Average Per Game and MAC Ranking

  • Passing yards Allowed: 220 (4th)
  • Rushing yards Allowed: 172 (9th)
  • Points Allowed: 25 (2nd)


NCAA Football: Buffalo at Coastal Carolina
Shaun Dolac making a stop earlier this year versus Coastal Carolina
David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo enters the contest as the MAC East leader, a well-rounded team that is playing well in all three phases of the game.

Offensively, the Bulls feature a balanced attack led by Rutgers transfer quarterback Cole Snyder, who has developed into an effective starter in his first MAC season.

Snyder is a dual-threat guy who ranks fourth in the MAC with 1,907 passing yards with a solid 12:5 touchdown to interception ratio. Snyder has also added 131 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns.

When Snyder is not pulling and running it, Buffalo’s running game features one of the more productive duos in the MAC. with all-purpose back Ron Cook Jr. leading the squad with 496 yards rushing and featuring in the passing game and kickoff return duties, where the Bulls rank 20th in the FBS in return yard average at 23 yards per return.

At six-foot-two, 215 lbs., Mike Washington brings a contrast in size to the rushing game over the five-foot-nine, 190 lb. Cook. Washington leads the squad with six rushing scores while tallying 487 yards on the ground.

When Buffalo’s offense takes to the skies, they have a highly productive duo in Justin Marshall and Quian Williams, who have combined for 76 catches for 947 yards and nine scores.

While Buffalo should remain balanced offensively, look for Buffalo to test the back end of the Bobcats defense through the air as Ohio is allowing an average of 335 yards per contest through the air in 2022.

A lot of the passing offense and explosive plays allowed by Ohio was in non-conference play but Snyder, Marshall, and Williams will present the biggest test for the Ohio passing defense since the opening conference game against Kent State.

Defensively, the Bulls feature a front seven that has been dominant at times, with opportunistic defenders throughout.

The group begins with a defensive line that has frustrated opponents at times like in the 34-7 win over UMass, where the Bulls forced nine punts and allowed a paltry 220 total yards.

Behind the D-line is one of the best linebacker duos in the MAC in Shaun Dolac and James Patterson. Dolac is seventh in the FBS and second in the MAC in tackles with 86, while Patterson is 10th in the MAC with 63. Dolac has also been a revelation in the passing game, with five pass break-ups, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack.

A key to the Bulls success against most MAC contenders this season has been turnovers, with Buffalo dispatching Toledo and Bowling Green by creating ten takeaways. Leading the charge for the Bulls on the turnover front is safety Marcus Fuqua who has five interceptions on the year, including three last week versus Toledo, and a fumble recovery.

Should the contest be close, Buffalo features a weapon in kicker Alex McNulty who made 15 of 17 attempts in 2022, for a MAC-leading 88 percent accuracy rate.

Getting to know the Ohio Bobcats


Offensive Average Per Game and MAC Ranking

  • Passing Yards: 309 (1st)
  • Rushing Yards: 118 (10th)
  • Points: 32 (2nd)

Defensive Average Per Game and MAC Ranking

  • Passing yards Allowed: 335 (12th)
  • Rushing yards Allowed: 175 (10th)
  • Points Allowed: 34 (10th)


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Ohio at Penn State
Ohio’s Sam Wiglusz in action this year against Penn State
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Bobcats are in second place in the MAC East, with one of the MAC’s better offenses, an improving defense, and some special teams standouts.

Like Buffalo, the Bobcats’ cause has be aided by big advantages in the turnover margin and penalties. In the ‘Cats three straight wins, Ohio has a turnover advantage of 8-2 and is one of the least overall penalized teams in the FBS on the season, ranking 25th with 45 penalty yards per game.

To win this one, the ‘Cats will need to protect the ball against the Bulls’ opportunistic defense and have one of the best in the MAC at doing that in quarterback Kurtis Rourke.

Rourke has blossomed into one of the league’s best QBs after a rough 2021 campaign, consistently showing he can take care of the ball as he has only three interceptions, leading the league with only one interception per 91 attempts.

The Ohio QB is also the league’s most accurate, completing almost 69 percent of his throws Perhaps more impressive than the completion percentage is the ball placement, where Rourke has shown an impressive ability to consistently put the ball in a spot where only his receiver can make a play.

Ohio’s passing game has the capability to give Buffalo’s defense nightmares, especially if Rourke has time to throw.

Ohio’s WR corps is led by Ohio State transfer Sam Wiglusz, who has taken the MAC by storm in his first season, as he is third in the league in receptions with 49 going for 579 yards and seven scores.

Ohio is well positioned with receivers in the passing game to exploit any weakness in the Bulls secondary as the Bobcats have nine players with at least ten catches with diverse physical makeups, ranging from five-foot-11, 185 lb. Wiglusz to six-foot-three, 225 lb. James Bostic and six-foot-six, 250 lb. tight end Will Kacmarek.

Ohio will try to maintain some balance with a commitment to the running game but who will be the starter this week is unknown as leading rusher Sieh Bangura did not complete last week’s game with a shoulder injury. If Bangura cannot go, Ohio can go to a reliable option in Nolan McCormick, who has over 350 yards from scrimmage and 17 catches this year off the bench.

A major X-factor in the Bobcat running game is Rourke, who has shown the ability to pull the ball and run or improvise to devastating effect, like last week where he turned an almost certain sack into a critical 61-yard scamper in a close win over Northern Illinois.

Defensively, the ‘Cats have allowed just 24 points per contest in MAC play with a bend-don’t-break style of defense featuring timely stops with big plays. Over the past three games, Ohio’s defense has 24 tackles-for-loss, 12 QB hurries, 11 pass break-ups, eight turnovers, seven sacks, and a touchdown.

Setting the tone for the Bobcats is leading tackler linebacker Keye Thompson, who has 64 stops on the season. Defensive ends Jack McCrory and Vonnie Watkins have terrorized opponents with a combined 66 stops, five sacks, three forced fumbles, and a touchdown.

Like Buffalo, if the game is close, Ohio has one of the MAC’s most accurate kickers in true freshman Nathaniel Vakos, who is second in the MAC by converting 85% of attempts this year with a long of 55-yards.

What to Expect

While a blowout is possible for either team if they can continue a big turnover advantage or if either squad cannot limit explosive plays in the passing game, it will more likely be a close game like the past two seasons where each squad has one a game by one point.

In a close game, signs point to an advantage for home team Ohio.

Since Buffalo joined the MAC in 1999, the home team has had a significant leg up, winning 15 of 17 games.

Also, in 2022, Ohio is undefeated at the newly-minted Frank Solich Field with a 4-0 record.

The Bobcats are arguably near the top of the MAC with its crowd advantage, averaging around 20,000 fans per home game who make a ton of noise.

Ohio 31, Buffalo 27.