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2023 MAC Football Week 10 Game Preview: Buffalo Bulls at Toledo Rockets

The Bulls need a win to stay alive in the MAC East chase, while Toledo seeks to tighten their grip on the MAC West.

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

Toledo (7-1, 4-0 MAC) will try to avenge last year’s loss to Buffalo (3-5, 3-1 MAC) when the two face off at the Glass Bowl Tuesday night. The Rockets have improved since then, and the Bulls are not as strong, so Jason Candle’s squad will be hoping for a smooth home victory. Maurice Linguist’s group is definitely the underdog here, but they are still capable of pulling off an upset — or at least giving Toledo a scare on Halloween night.

Game Notes

  • Date and time: Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Network: ESPN2 (a valid cable subscription is required)
  • Location: The Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio
  • Gambling considerations: Toledo is a 15.5-point favorite, with an over/under of 52.5, per DraftKings.
  • All-time series: Toledo leads the all-time series by a 7-6 margin.
  • Last Meeting: October 22, 2022 — Buffalo 34, Toledo 27

Toledo outlook Boca Raton Bowl - Liberty v Toledo Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Toledo is coming off a big win a week-and-a-half ago at Miami, which made them the only undefeated team in the conference. The Rockets have definitely excelled in the “winning the game” department, but have had some inconsistency that their record doesn’t show. Consistency on both sides of the ball will allow them to take care of Buffalo.

The offense powered Toledo to their first five wins and while the unit had some issues the last two games, there’s no reason it can’t dominate. Quarterback Dequan Finn has been a great leader for the Rockets all year and is on pace for another All-MAC selection. Last game, he started off incredibly sharp, leading Toledo on three touchdown drives and completing 13-of-16 passes in the first half. He had a lot more trouble in the second half, as Miami’s pass rush added more pressure, but as long as he has time to throw, he’s hard to stop. The very talented O-line can help him out with that.

Receivers Jerjuan Newton and Junior Vandeross remain Finn’s top two targets but tight end Anthony Torres has emerged in the passing game with some big receptions in the past few weeks.

On the ground, Penny Boone has looked like a serious MAC Offensive Player of the Year contender. He ran for 73 yards in the Miami game which put his season total at 865. He’s rushing for seven yards per carry and also leads the conference in rushing touchdowns with eight. The only concern here is that Boone didn’t get any carries on Toledo’s final two drives in the last game, so the jury is out on whether he’s 100 percent healthy right now.

Toledo started the year off with incredible potential on defense and we have seen that come to fruition the last two games. The unit held Ball State to six points and then limited Miami to 17.

The linebacker unit is very quality with Dallas Gant making plays happen week-to-week, and Daniel Bolden stepping up recently. The secondary has also been all-around solid recently. Cornerback Quinyon Mitchell has been a pass deflection machine with 10 on the year.

Buffalo outlook

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

Buffalo is tied in the loss column with MAC East leading Miami, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone outside of Buffalo believes in them. The Bulls had a relatively horrible non-conference part of their season but took care of business against Akron and Kent State and had a convincing win over Central Michigan. The one conference loss came against an up-and-down Bowling Green team. If Buffalo wants to prove the doubters wrong, they have a big opportunity to do it Tuesday night at Toledo.

Buffalo has a passing game that can compete against Toledo’s if they are in rhythm. Cole Snyder has done a fine job at the quarterback position but has been rocky recently. His 30 yard, two interception, 5-of-15 passing game in the Bowling Green loss was not great, but there was a weather component to that one at least. He’ll look to replicate his 232-yard game against Central Michigan where he didn’t turn the ball over.

In the receiving unit, Marlyn Johnson and Daniel Harding Jr. lead the team in yards, while Cole Harrity is tied for the team lead in receptions out of the slot.

On the ground, Buffalo has used a two running back system most of the year getting Ron Cook Jr. and Mike Washington each 70+ carries which has resulted in each of them surpassing 300 yards. Buffalo’s rushing attack hasn’t been entirely explosive but Toledo’s run defense has had some questionable games so if they can get some big gainers early it could put the Rockets on their heels early.

Defensively, Buffalo has been pretty solid since MAC play began. Kent State is obviously struggling a lot, but the Bulls D completely silenced them in their most recent game, allowing just 164 total yards.

Safety Devin Grant has been a MAC Defensive Player of the Year candidate to this point for the Bulls. He’s racked up 54 total tackles, forced a fumble, picked off four passes (returning two of those for touchdowns) and blocked a kick to ice the win over Akron. He’s the kind of player that can be a major disruptor on any given play.

In the linebacker unit, Joe Andreessen has been a force, leading the team in tackles. Defensive end Max Michel leads the team with four sacks.

Game outlook

For Toledo, this game is about taking care of business at home and the main concern is having a letdown game after the big win at Miami. For Buffalo, it’s a chance to prove themselves as MAC contenders and get back into that first place spot in the MAC East.

This is a pretty good defensive matchup but Toledo just has the advantage on offense. Finn has been great at limiting mistakes this year and the offensive line just doesn’t allow sacks.

If Peny Boone is good to go, the Rockets should be able to get in the end zone a few times. For Buffalo to have a shot, they’ll really need the offense led by Cole Snyder to step up.

Prediction: Toledo 27, Buffalo 14