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2023 MAC Football Week 7 Game Preview: Bowling Green Falcons at Buffalo Bulls

Buffalo looks to stay in the MAC East race, while Bowling Green hopes to right the ship in MAC play.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 Central Michigan at Buffalo Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons take on the Bulls this Saturday in what is— quite inexplicably— a very important matchup for the MAC East standings. Both teams are 2-4, but the key difference between the two lies in their league records, as Buffalo looks to improve to 3-0 in MAC play, while Bowling Green tries to get their first MAC win.

Game notes

  • Time and date: Saturday, October 14th, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: UB Stadium in Buffalo, New York
  • Network: ESPN+ (A valid subscription is necessary for viewing.)
  • Gambling considerations: Buffalo is a 4.5-point favorite, with an over/under of 44.5, per DraftKings
  • All-time series: Bowling Green leads 12-8, with the two teams trading wins over the last two contests.
  • Last Meeting: In a very similar situation to this season, Buffalo needed a win to stay undefeated in league play and did, scoring 38 unanswered over BGSU to win 38-7 on October 8th, 2022.

What Happened Last Time?

Bowling Green hosted Buffalo on an early October afternoon. Buffalo just dominated the Falcons. Ron Cook, Jr. and Mike Washington ran for two touchdowns each, James Patterson had a 97 yard scoop and score, and Alex McNulty added on a field goal.

Almost nothing went right for the Falcons. It took the Falcons 39:03 of game time to get their first score, an 11-yard passing touchdown from Matt McDonald to Ta’Ron Keith. But after that, Buffalo would score an incredible 38 unanswered to win 38-7. This was the third game of a five-game win streak for the Bulls last year. The Falcons’ rattled off a three -ame winning streak in 2022 after that game.

Bowling Green Falcons outlook

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Georgia Tech Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bowling Green… What is going on? Losing 38-7 on homecoming, taking down Georgia Tech, then getting shutout in their second MAC game. One would hope they could get right soon, but it may be difficult, as they are 1-6 in their last seven against the Bulls. Despite the recent record, Bowling Green is 8-3 all time when playing at Buffalo.

Quarterback play is once again going to be under fire, as has been for the entire season. Connor Bazelak has done most of the work, accumulating 826 passing yards, four touchdown passes, and six interceptions. Camden Orth is a great backup, and it was shown against Georgia Tech when he got the Falcons going with that extra effort touchdown.

The Falcons have done better rushing the ball this year. Terion Stewart has 416 yards (4th in MAC) on the season with four rushing touchdowns on the year. He’s averaging 102.7 rushing yards per game over his last three games. Stewart has already surpassed his season high in yards. Only time will tell how high his total goes.

Bowling Green’s receivers have been quiet, but that’s only because the quarterbacks have struggled. Odieu Hiliare leads all receivers with 226 yards and two touchdowns. Ta’Ron Keith, Abdul Fatai-Ibrahim, Harold Fannin, Jr., Finn Hogan, and Austin Osborne round out the receivers with 100+ yards.

Bowling Green’s defense has been pretty good despite the workload. The defense averages 354.5 yards per game given up. While it seems high, that’s good for fourth in the MAC. BG also averages 209.2 pass yards given up (fifth in MAC), and 145.3 rush yards given up (sixth in MAC).

Joseph Sipp, Jr. continues to have a breakout year, as he ranks ninth in the MAC for total tackles. Cashius Howell leads BG with 2.5 sacks, with Darren Anders close behind at two. Jordan Oladokun and Jalen Huskey still lead the Falcons with two interceptions each (tied for third in the MAC).

Buffalo Bulls outlook

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Wisconsin USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Are the Bulls at the start of a run? Have they figured it out? After going 0-4 in non-conference, which included a heartbreaking loss to Fordham, the Bulls have won two straight. Buffalo barely beat Akron, and dominated Central Michigan. What kind of game will we see on Saturday?

Buffalo is definitely dependent on their quarterback Cole Snyder. He has more passing attempts (222), completions (135), and passing yards (1,307) than anyone in the MAC and has also thrown for 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Bulls average 119.8 rushing yard per game with their two-headed rushing attack of Ron Cook, Jr. and Mike Washington. Cook (283 yards, four touchdowns) and Washington (256 yards, two touchdowns) are 14th and 16th in the MAC respectively for yardage. The Bulls dominated the Falcons last year with 280 rushing yards. It would not be surprising if they tried it again this year.

Buffalo’s top two receivers, Marlyn Johnson and Darrell Harding, Jr., both have 200 receiving yards or more.

It’s also worth noting Alex McNulty. He’s been automatic for extra points going 18-of-18. He’s gone 7-of-11 on field goals, missing from 34, 24, 40, and 50-plus. While he will likely get looks to play on Sundays with his all-MAC pedigree, it is a bit concerning he’s displayed misses from all ranges.

Buffalo’s defense is last in the MAC with an average of 443.7 yards given up on defense, with 192.5 rush yards per game lost on the ground, and a paltry 251.2 pass yards given up. They have accumulated 12 sacks and seven interceptions. Devin Grant, after having been named Defensive Player of the Week by the FWAA, will be the key player to watch. He came up with three interceptions and returned two of them for pick-sixes last week.

Game Outlook

What is one big thing that each team needs to do?

It may be obvious, but Bowling Green needs the offense to work some magic. The defense has played pretty well this year, but they can’t rely on them. The offense has to strike gold, not only for this week, but for the sake of their season.

Buffalo’s defense needs a great performance. While Devin Grant may not be able to repeat last week, the unit will need to stay on their toes because they know Bowling Green has shown glimpses of what they can do.

Bowling Green’s offense will put points on the board this week, but Buffalo will take advantage of an inconsistent Falcon offense. Bulls win a close game.

Score Prediction: Buffalo 28 - Bowling Green 24